Why He’s Interesting: Gabriel Pollack knew he wouldn’t be the best trumpet player in the world. Instead, he set his sights on another musical goal. “It’s funny. I always wanted to run a venue.” After an eight-year run at the Bop Stop in Ohio City, Pollack assumed the mantle of director of performing arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art in October. There, he inherits programs like the well-loved City Stages series while spearheading expansion at the museum-owned Transformer Station.
Blazing a Trail: While music industry management increasingly gains popularity in college curriculums, that wasn’t the case when Pollack was in school. Taking the road less traveled — for a music major, anyway — he customized a new major at Oberlin College for himself: Jazz Entrepreneurship. “It was a fight. Now, the school loves that I have this major. At the time, I was really fighting for it."
Achieving a Goal: When Pollack met previous director of performing arts Tom Welsh nearly a decade ago, he felt inspired by the man and his position, fantasizing about earning the same title one day. “It was the first time where I was like, Oh, wow, that’s at the museum. It’s kind of a big deal. In my mind as an outsider, I was like, I can put this music in front of a lot more people at an institution like that.”
Art and Sound: One of the benefits of Pollack’s new museum gig includes the blending of mediums — art and music coming together in a single space. “I’m looking forward to coming up with creative ways to kind of link the art to the performance, which is something that Tom did a lot. Weaving in the collection or current exhibits into performances, it’s a learning experience for me.” He pictures music directly relating to the visual art; free-form jazz beneath abstract works, folk music played in the shadow of folk art.
Minor memento: Pollack still carries the business card Tom Welsh handed him nearly a decade ago.
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