I’ve gotten lots of e-mail about press releases, most of which — including one message from the executive director of a notable orchestra — agrees with me. (Forgive me if you’ve written, and I haven’t answered yet.) Though one major orchestra publicist felt just a bit “offended.”
Some people raised an important point, that the materials — biographies and photos — that publicists get from artists and their managers aren’t any good. That’s true (and in fact I’ve been hearing that complaint for years). I’m going to address it; I’ve got a ghastly official biography of a top pianist, from the Carnegie Hall program book, which I’ll soon dissect.
Publicists, though, might consider interviewing artists whom they work with, to uncover useful information that isn’t in the official bios. Though then you run into another problem — some artists (or is it their managers?) don’t want their bios or press releases to be any different from the pointless standard model. They want every distinction, every award, every bit of praise, every important performance mentioned, for fear that people will think they haven’t achieved these things! Sad, to the extent that it’s still true.
Meanwhile, here’s a good press release, brief as it is, from the Carson City [Nevada]Symphony. Notice that it makes a concert sound friendly and interesting, and even includes an evocative description of a new work:
CARSON CITY SYMPHONY PRESENTS
“SYMPHONIC DANCE” CONCERT
WITH INTERNATIONAL TAP STAR,
SAM WEBER, APRIL 24
The Carson City Symphony, conducted by David Bugli will perform on Saturday, April 24, 7:30 p.m., at the Carson City Community Center theater. The program, “Symphonic Dance,” will feature guest soloist Sam Weber in Morton Gould’s “Tap Dance Concerto,” and the world premiere of Gwyneth Walker’s new work, “Symphonic Dances,” written in celebration of the Symphony’s twentieth season. The concert also will include the premiere of “Allegro” from “Argentia,” a suite for flute and orchestra by Argentinean composer Adriana I. Figueroa Mañas, with soloist Carol Grenier. Rounding out the program will be several Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms. An informal preview discussion, with conductor, composer, and soloists, begins at 6:45 p.m. in the Bonanza Room adjacent to the lobby.
Music Director and Conductor David Bugli said, “The Symphony has played several works by Gwyneth Walker, including two commissioned pieces, in the past. Her new work, ‘Symphonic Dances,’ is a suite of five dances, which are celebratory and fanciful, an expression of the composer’s imagination roaming freely. Her encounter with wild horses in Nevada inspired one of the movements, ‘Dance of the Wild Ponies.'”
Sam Weber is an international performing artist, master teacher, and choreographer. He studied in New York at the Juilliard School and has performed with several dance companies, including the Joffrey II, San Francisco, and Sacramento Ballets; in musical theater; and in television productions. Weber, known as “the fastest feet in tap,” is a winner of New York’s “Bessie” award. He is the permanent Guest Artist of Sierra Nevada Ballet, and is one of few tap dancers in the world currently performing Gould’s “Tap Dance Concerto,” a work in the classical concerto tradition, with the tap dancer as soloist.