As the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra’s executive director for the past six years, Petersen’s Fellowship experience continues to influence her. “The symphony orchestra world is really challenging right now,” she explains, adding that the audience base for classical ensembles is dwindling across the board.
In response to this decline, community orchestras like hers are finding ways to engage new audience members — in a word, she says, they are exercising “flexibility,” a skill Petersen became very comfortable with during her Fellowship.
Petersen says the Fellowship gave her the courage to take on new things. She recalls donning a wolf costume for a performance of “Peter and the Wolf.” “Someone commented that I was so brave,” Petersen says. “I laughed and said, ‘I run a community orchestra — it comes with the job.’ ”
Thinking back on her Fellowship, Petersen is both humbled and encouraged by the immense possibility inherent in the program. She advises current and future Bush Fellows to redefine what is possible and think beyond the readily accessible.
“What is actually possible?” she challenges. “Until you reach beyond what’s tangible, the impossible just isn’t possible.”