Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Houston
Website URL
American cultural institutions, fine arts, symphony orchestras, classical music, musicology, museums, theaters, race and ethnicity and the arts, whiteness studies, community arts engagement programs, 1850-present, technology and the arts, arts unions, arts philanthropy, arts leadership and entrepreneurship, economics and financial structures of nonprofit arts institutions, Boston, Arthur Fiedler, Serge Koussevitzky, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

​Dr. Ayden Adler serves as Assistant Professor of Arts Administration at UHD, where she also teaches in the MA in Nonprofit Management program. Dr. Adler’s vision is to sustain the arts through robust inclusivity and diversity, superlative artistry and leadership, and innovative approaches to audience engagement and retention. Her academic research focuses on the history of arts and culture ​institutions in the United States from the Gilded Age to the present. Her current book project, Orchestrating Whiteness: Serge Koussevitzky, Arthur Fiedler, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under contract with the University of Illinois Press, addresses the historical roots of systemic racism in classical music in the United States.​

Previously, Dr. Adler served as Dean of the Conservatory at Michael Tilson Thomas’ New World Symphony, as Dean of the School of Music at DePauw University, and as Executive Director of the world-renowned Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She also held senior-level management positions at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Dr. Adler began her career as a performing artist and played the French Horn in the Jerusalem Symphony in Israel, and for 10 years, as a tenured member for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in New York. She has recorded for the Harmonia Mundi label and is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards).​

Currently, Dr. Adler is a Chief Executive Global Fellow of National Arts Strategies and a research affiliate of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project. She serves as an accreditor for the National Association of Schools of Music and as a director on the board of the College Music Society and the Chumir Foundation. As founder and principal of Adler Executive Strategies, Dr. Adler helps organizations in the nonprofit sector, predominantly in the arts and higher education, reach their mission objectives by providing executive support and coaching, as well as expertise in strategic planning and execution, project development, resource acquisition, assessment, and accreditation. Dr. Adler regularly gives presentations at national and international arts and culture forums that address issues of civic and economic relevance, power and privilege, entrepreneurship, leadership, and new technologies.​

Ph.D., Musicology, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester
D.M.A. (Doctorate of Musical Arts), Performance and Literature (Horn and ​Natural Horn) with Honors, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester​
M.A., Musicology, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester
M.M., French Horn, The Juilliard School ​
A.B., Princeton University, Comparative Religion with a Certificate in Music​

Additional Training and Certifications
  • American Council on Education, National Women’s Leadership Forum
  • Harvard Business School, Chief Executive Program: “The New Nature of Relevance”
  • International Coaching​ Federation, ACC level certification
  • University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Chief Executive Program: “Leadership and Convergence: Navigating Radical Change”
  • University of Texas RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, Chief Executive Program: “Sustainability in the Cultural Sector”
Recent Publications

Recent Publications, Scholarly Papers, and Panel Presentations


  • Orchestrating Whiteness: Arthur Fiedler, Serge Koussevitzky, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Under contract with University of Illinois Press.Abstract: This book looks at the repertory of the Boston Symphony Orchestra through the artistic agendas of its two conductors during the 1930s and 40s, Serge Koussevitzky and Arthur Fiedler, and shows how the repertories programmed by the two conductors grew further and further apart during this time period in response to changing demographics and cultural mores.​  While Koussevitzky championed the aesthetics of a pure, non-referential (or “absolute”), sacralized canon—the aesthetic most commonly associated with classical music today—Fiedler programmed orchestral works with overt ethnic markers, jazz references, and other “popular” music influences.​  My work examines the musical choices of the two conductors through the changing lenses of race, ethnicity, class, and commercialism at the time and through the efforts to define American identity after World War II. While acknowledging the pros and cons of ​both Fiedler’s and Koussevitzky’s agendas, ​this book takes a hard look at the racial assumptions that underlie conventions still commonly found in the classical music world today, such as the distinction between “lowbrow” and “highbrow” and addresses the historical roots of systemic racism in classical music in the United States.​
  • “Classical Music in Contemporary Media: The Boston Pops,” University of Gothenburg International Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2022​

​“Structural Racism in Classical Music,” College Music Society National Conference, Rochester, NY, 2021

Presidential Plenary Panel “Awadagin Pratt: Black in America: Change Leadership and Concert Programming,” Moderator, College Music Society National Conference, Rochester, NY, 2021​

“The Underrepresented of the Underrepresented: Raising Awareness of Post-1800 Female Composers,” Moderator, College Music Society National Conference, Rochester, NY, 2021​
“Orchestrating Whiteness: Race at the Boston Symphony Orchestra,” Society for American Music National Conference, online, 2021​
Presidential Plenary Panel “Progressive Curricular Change,” Moderator, College Music Society National Conference, online, 2020​
“Equity and Opportunity in Music Higher Education,” Moderator, College Music Society National Conference, online, 2020​
“‘Made in Germany’: Ethnicity, Race, and Conceptions of Musical Value at the Boston Symphony Orchestra,” German Studies Association National Conference, Portland, OR, 2019​
“Rethinking Conservatory-Derived Assumptions about the Education of Diverse Career-Aspiring Musicians,” College Music Society National Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 2018​
“Inclusion, Access, Relevance: Addressing 21st-Century Higher Education Challenges through Shared Governance,” Panelist, College Music Society National Conference, San Antonio, TX, 2017​
“The Critical Response to Profitable Concerts: Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra, 1930-1950,” Music and the Middlebrow, University of Notre Dame, London, England, 2017​
“Creating and Sustaining Global Online Communities and Partnerships,” Classical:NEXT Conference, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 2015​
“Creating Global Partnerships Using Internet2,” Internet2 Global Summit, Washington, DC, 2015​

“‘Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music’: Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops,” University of Rochester Institute for Popular Music Lecture Series, Rochester, NY, 2015​

“Embedding Entrepreneurship across the Institution,” Network of Music Career Development Officers Conference, Manhattan School of Music, New York, NY, 2015​
Recent Invited Talks

DEPAUW UNIVERSITY, Greencastle, IN, February 2021

HONG KONG UNIVERSITY, Hong Kong, November 2019




SUNWAY UNIVERSITY, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 2019​
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY, Nashville, TN, March 2017​
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY, Tallahassee, FL, Entrepreneurship Residency, April 2016


STETSON UNIVERSITY, DeLand, FL, February 2015

ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY, Chicago, IL, October 2015​
Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, Early Modern, Modern, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Art & Architectural History, Museums, Race