After the curtain calls: York Symphony's executive director heading south

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

After the ruby red curtains of the Appell Center swept closed, marking the end of another show, audience members rose from their seats and musicians packed up their instruments.

Michael Reichman, meanwhile, could only look back at the stage he crossed for seven years, as his very last in York County.

After a long tenure with the York Symphony Orchestra, Reichman is departing as its executive director to head south and join the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina as vice president of artistic operations and general manager.

For him, it was simply time to move on.

"Being here seven years, we've accomplished a lot," Reichman said. "I was recruited to apply for this position at the Charlotte Symphony, and I saw it as a great opportunity to have a bigger impact on the industry in a bigger metropolitan area."

Having studied flute and conducting at the University of Nebraska and the New England Conservatory, respectively, Reichman always knew he wanted to influence the music world in any capacity he could.

For Reichman, it's about service to the industry and to the community experiencing the music.

“I started taking on a lot of these managerial roles, and I actually started gravitating toward that more and more,” Reichman said, reflecting on his career thus far. “I found that this was a way I could have a very powerful and impactful influence on the industry.”

From the start of his tenure at YSO, Reichman knew he wanted to increase the impact of the organization on the community — making the concerts something that audience members would really embrace and get excited about.

One thing Reichman could never have predicted was a worldwide pandemic, halting virtually all arts programs across the country.

Michael Reichman with one of his gifts of signed oversized drum sticks on his last day at the York Symphony Orchestra in York on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.

"We were really focused on how can we have patron engagement that is off the screen, that stands out," Reichman said. "And we were very fortunate to do programming at a safe, social distance."

In addition to virtual performances, YSO organized Valentine's Day candy-grams with musicians performing outside the homes of orchestra patrons.

In addition to navigating changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Reichman and his team worked to improve the quality of life for their musicians.

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During Reichman's tenure, YSO musicians' pay increased by 40% over the course of seven years, he said.

"We have increased our annual fund by 60%, expanded corporate sponsorships by 80% and boosted ticket sales by over 50%," Reichman said. "These are the accomplishments of the organization; we as a team were able to accomplish this."

While Reichman worked behind the scenes to improve YSO, he didn't shy away from the spotlight either.

Patrons will be familiar with Reichman's "curtain talks" during intermission of the orchestra performances.

The York Symphony Orchestra in York on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.

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"I thank the sponsors, I try to tell a few jokes to the audience. I get some laughs, I get some groans," Reichman said. "I think I have heard from people that they will miss that."

Perhaps one individual who might miss Reichman's curtain talks the most is the individual who heard every single one: Lawrence Golan, music director and conductor at York Symphony Orchestra.

"He was always a fun and a funny guy to work with," Golan said. "And I think our audience knows that very well because every time he would come out to thank the sponsors of the concert, he would always turn it almost into a standup comic routine."

York Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Michael Reichman is photographed at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts in York City, Thursday, June 24, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

While Reichman knew how to light up a room, he also knew how to keep calm and steadfast in even the most stressful of situations, Golan said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, Golan said Reichman always remained calm and rallied everyone else to rise above the pressure.

"Not all orchestras have done so well throughout and coming out of the pandemic," Golan said. "And I'm most pleased with what we've done in York. We've come out of the pandemic stronger in every way. Michael really had a passion for self improvement and growth — and it really shows."