Michael Orlove, director of many city music programs, hired away from Chicago by the NEA

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Michael Orlove
  • Michael Orlove
The Chicago music community has lost one of its most important, dedicated, and visionary figures: Michael Orlove, longtime director of music programs at the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, has been hired by the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., to become its new director of presenting and artist communities. He'll head federal support for all kinds of artistic endeavors and processes, "including artist residencies, commissioning of original work, exhibitions, performances, and preservation." He begins on May 7.

Orlove's stint as director of music programs for the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, where he essentially carried on the same work he'd done at Cultural Affairs, concluded at the end of last year. Three and a half months later, no one has been hired to replace him. I've been following the local scene for two decades, and I can't think of another person who's done more for Chicago music, in all of its range, than Orlove—not only programming but also advising, consulting, and just generally helping musicians and presenters in any way he could. He created popular programs like Summerdance and the World Music Festival, and arguably made his department the smartest, most creative, and most daring live-music presenter in the city. Chicago's loss is immeasurable, but the nation will surely benefit from his involvement in the arts at the federal level.

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