Maria Kanakis

May 15, 2011


The Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Certificate Program is designed to prepare musicians for the challenges and opportunities of the music business awaiting them after graduation.

This month, the IML Spotlight features Arts Leadership Program alumna Maria Kanakis (BM Violin Performance 2009), who has been working since graduation for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as a Development Assistant and was recently promoted to Friends Program Manager.

As part of her ALP program, Maria worked as an intern with Columbia Artists Management, the Kennedy Center, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, experiences, she says, helped prepare her for work after graduation.

In launching your performance career, what skills or learning have you drawn upon from your experiences in the Arts Leadership Program?

I’ve actually been focusing on arts management rather than performance since I graduated from Eastman, so it has been even more helpful for me that I participated in ALP. When I was applying to jobs, I was already ahead of the curve because of skills I had learned both in ALP classes and internships, such as resume building, interviewing, and preparing a portfolio. Also, the opportunities I had in ALP to interact with professionals were invaluable when it came to transitioning into the real world.

What were the challenges facing you upon graduation?  How did you approach them?

After graduating, it was hard to adjust and change the pace of my lifestyle from being a student to having a full-time job. I’ll admit there were some bumps along the road, but I got through them by taking things one at a time, and always trying to keep a positive attitude and not get discouraged.

What has the experience been like of working at the New York Philharmonic and of living in New York City?

Working at the New York Phil has been a great experience for me so far!  I’ve learned a lot- everything from working in a professional environment, to how to fund-raise and how to treat donors.  Also, I love living in NYC…there’s always something to do and I love the constant buzz and excitement!  Not to mention the shopping and great food!

What projects do you have on the go musically and/or professionally right now? What are some upcoming and long-term career goals?

Right now at work my goal is to get more involved in the Young New Yorkers Program, and I’m working on training our new Friends Program Assistant.  Long-term, I’d love to be in a position where I can be creative and really take part in moving the music industry forward.

To what extent do you consider yourself an entrepreneur, and why?

To me, being an entrepreneur is as simple as keeping an open mind to new ideas and change.  It’s always being creative and thinking of new possibilities, and having the passion to pursue those ideas.  I try to have that attitude as often as possible.

How do you keep your music (and your work) fresh and inspiring/inspired?

It’s easy to let your work get the best of you and get sucked into routine. If I find that happening, I try to make goals for myself or set deadlines, to keep moving ahead.