June 28, 2005
On the Way to "Experiencial Experience"
You were asking about how we might get audiences more deeply involved in music. It is difficult to think of a general plan, as every individual reacts and responds uniquely to music. Each person's encounter with music is different. The first crucial step is to initiate public interest in listening to music. Presenting historical information could help spark interest, as a contextual explanation is attractive to some people. With others, focus on the artist, the human being, is more effective.
As an artist, I want to cooperate with presenters that cater to the varied audience’s range of interests and needs. My effort takes the direction of introducing new opportunities for listening which, hopefully, lead to the audience being able to have what you call an "experiencial experience."
For several years now, I've tried different ideas to build a stronger connection with the audience. While these ideas are not necessarily ground-breaking or new tactics, I list them here anyway:
· Letters to the Audience – Every season, I write a letter of greeting for the recital programs. It is up to the presenters to incorporate it or not.
· Program Notes – I write my own notes for the recital repertoire, which hopefully gives the readers insight to the player's perspective about the specific pieces. This is also left in the hands of the presenters to be printed. As some presenters have contractual obligations with their own program annotators, I don't insist on the use of my notes. However, they are all available on my website.
· Meet and Greet – I've already written about this.
· Q & A and Post-Concert Discussions – these are usually done in the context of an already-existing format with the presenters, and I am almost always happy to oblige.
· Website – most of the written materials on my website are my own words and not the work of a professional publicist.
· Audio Program Notes – A few years ago, I made an audio version of program notes with musical samples for a modern work for one of the recital programs. This included sound explanations of certain musical terms such as Twelve Tone Row. This ultimately didn’t work out, due to delays relating to copyright, and during the trial run, the CDs were not used for the purposes for which they were designed. For example, some were distributed after the performance, while others were used as a "treat" for signing up for subscription tickets for the following season. The rare few who did receive the disc in advance of the concert found it to be interesting and useful, but in the end, the CDs were way too expensive for me to produce and to wish that they can be passed out correctly. In the words of one presenter (as I was told second hand), "Yes, it was helpful, but what would have been really helpful was for you not to have programmed a modern work at all." (Sigh.)
· DVD – While the Audio Program Notes were financially disastrous for me and my morale, the DVD which I produced last year in Japan in connection to the All Contemporary Recital Program proved to be a greater success. The DVD featured interview snippets with some of the composers, sound clips, composer and artist bios, etc., and these were passed out upon request to the ticket holders free of charge. The airline ANA sponsored the project, and I was grateful.
Doug, any more ideas? I do want to stay strictly in the mainstream classical music, but I would love to hear your thoughts.
In my next entry, I will write more in detail about my project in San Francisco next spring in partnership with San Francisco Performances. And, of course, I am in Japan right now, in the midst of Total Experience concerts, another community-involving initiative.
Posted by at June 28, 2005 5:49 PM
Midori, great stuff, and essential to the conversation about 'conversation' in traditionally disengaged arts organizations.
On your 'audio program notes,' there are now cheaper and easier technology solutions (MP3, podcasting, and such) that would make these less expensive to produce and cheap and easy to distribute (no more CDs, or mailing, etc.).
It would be great if several touring classical artists would decide to provide such audio files, on-line, so that the local presenter could link to them.
There must be a grant project in there somewhere. Perhaps the Classical Music Initiative.
Posted by: Andrew Taylor at June 29, 2005 9:21 AM