Concert producer Michele Glymph helps bring music to the masses.
Describe your work at the Library.
As a senior music specialist/concert producer, my responsibilities include producing the Concerts from the Library of Congress series and working closely with the Library’s Events Office to present high-profile events. The events include the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, special exhibitions, lectures and book signings.
Additionally, I serve as the Music Division’s fund manager, with responsibilities for monitoring the operations of 43 gift and trust funds while working closely with the Financial Service Directorate and the chief and assistant chief of the Music Division. I also serve as facility manager of the Coolidge Auditorium and Whittall Pavilion, which houses the Library’s renowned Stradivarius instruments.
How did you prepare for your position?
Growing up, I listened to all types of music, never realizing that music would become my career. I came to the Library as a 16-year-old work-study student on a referral from a U.S. senator.
I planned to spend only a summer at the Library but fell in love with the music collections and live performances. One summer turned into a 44-year love affair, and I am still here and still in love with my work. I have been fortunate to have great mentors who observed my talents early in my career and trusted me to get the job done.
What have been your most memorable experiences at the Library?
In my position, I have met and worked with many luminaries, including three U.S. presidents: William J. Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. I interviewed Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoree Smokey Robinson and produced memorable concerts that featured Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Shirley Caesar, Billy Joel and Gloria and Emilio Estefan.
Another treasured memory was going to Thailand for the retrieval of traditional Thai instruments, on exhibit from the Library at the King’s Palace (the instruments were given to the Library in 1960 as a gift from King Bhumibol Adulyadej). I also traveled to St. Louis to pack and ship the Katherine Dunham Dance Collection, working from her home surrounded by items she collected during her travels.
While all these memories are important to me, the most significant event that I will most cherish was witnessing the first African American woman become the Librarian of Congress. This really stands apart from everything else!
What are your favorite collections items?
I really do not have a favorite item. There are so many amazing items in our collections, however, if I had to name a few they would be the Louis Armstrong collection of letters; “The Wiz” production materials; Gershwin self-portraits; the Federal Theatre Project, which includes the first all-black “Macbeth” cast; the Alvin Ailey Dance Collection; and Beethoven’s hair.
I’ve really enjoyed being able to work with the Stradivarius instrument collection and to hear them played by some of the most famous artists in the world on the Coolidge Auditorium stage. There is so much history throughout the Library, and I am grateful to continue to be a part of making history that will be stored within our collections.
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Thanks for taking the time to inform the public about the joys of music and the historical context of the instruments you have studied.
Nice! Thanks for sharing your work experience with fellow librarians…
All the best,
Thank you for sharing and appreciate your important work.
Did I just read that the Library has some of Beethoven’s hair? Wow.
I’m really enjoying reading more about the Library of Congress and thoroughly enjoyed your piece about your work. On a somewhat different note, we live in an 1830 historical home on the Cumberland River in Tennessee where Allen Tate Nad Caroline Gordon lived in the 40’s. I believe he was associated with the Libraty during the time Francis (Fanny) Cheney worked there; I also met her, a very interesting person for sure.
Lovely interview! Thanks for all you great work over the years.
Thanks for sharing your story. I love seeing who is working behind the scenes!
I loved reading a full description about your job. 44 years! Congratulations.