“Experience a live orchestra concert. It may delight you, comfort you, or inspire you…but it will move you.”
That’s the slogan on the American Symphony Orchestra League’s “Find a Concert” website, designed to attract new listeners to orchestra performances. I’m not going to comment on the slogan or the site, because I’m part of this effort by the League. They hired me to write descriptions of selected events, picked by various orchestras as ideal for first-time concertgoers. These are on the site. They’re longer versions of the kind of marketing blurbs I’ve written for the St. Louis Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra — blurbs that try to describe the music without hyping it, and especially try to convey what the program as a whole will feel like.
I’ll talk about these in another blog entry, but you can find my Pittsburgh blurbs here (you’ll have to click on each concert separately, to see what I wrote), and my St. Louis blurbs here and here. The first St. Louis link takes you to some thoughts about romanticism, which is the St. Louis season’s theme, and the second to blurbs about the concerts themselves. Philadelphia doesn’t seem to have put the blurbs on its site, but you can read them in a brochure you can download. (This link takes you to a page where you’ll have to follow a link called “Click here for a printable season schedule,” which coughs up a 6mb PDF file. I’ve avoided linking to the file directly, to give Windows users the chance to right-click on “Save target as…” to avoid viewing the file immediately, but instead to download it for later perusal.)
But back to the Symphony Orchestra League. I’d love it if you’d go to the site, and let me know what you think. I’m not looking for comments on my blurbs, though of course they’re welcome, whether they’re positive or negative. I’m more eager for comments on the League’s effort in general. One key part of it is a 30-second TV spot, which they tell me ought to start appearing in the next couple of weeks. The TV ad tells you to go to the website, where you’ll find orchestra concerts in your area, some of them specially recommended.
You can watch the TV spot on the Find a Concert site. (Again, I’ve given a link to the page it’s on, rather than the spot itself, so you can download it outside your browser — a good idea, maybe, since when I tried downloading the spot inside my browser, Windows Media Player crashed trying to play the thing. It worked fine when I downloaded the spot separately.) I’d especially love comments on this TV spot. Do you like it? Do you think it’ll be effective? Would it make you want to hear an orchestra? I have no vested interest here, since I had nothing to do with making it.
(This is another 6mb file, and the League says the download is practical only for people with broadband. I disagree. Streaming the spot from the site into your browser isn’t going to work if you have a dialup connection, but you can perfectly well download the file separately, with that right-click in Internet Explorer. It’ll take a while, 20 minutes or so, but if you’re going to be online anyway, what’s the problem?)
Please let me know what you think of all this. I’m very curious. Oh, and one thing I’d better note. Despite all the talk about orchestras in trouble, this campaign by the League is not, repeat not any kind of response to that. The TV spot and the website were conceived two years ago, in a process I was peripherally part of, as a member of a task force convened to discuss studies of the orchestra audience. But, again, I had nothing to do with planning the TV spot or the website, other than to write the descriptions of concerts.