The following comes from somebody in the business who wants
to be anonymous. It was sent as a comment on my book, but it’s
worthwhile putting it out for everyone to see:
Permit me to offer a real-world
perspective re your comment that "orchestras should try to find people who
really like the modernist works."
That’s very true, but the cold, hard fact is that, at the present time,
it’s a small audience.
The research I’ve seen says
somewhere between 5 – 10% of the current orchestra audience likes modern or
contemporary. And the other 90%+ are
becoming increasingly reluctant to buy an expensive ticket for a concert where half
the program is music they dislike.
There’s a fundamental law of
consumer behavior at work here — people don’t spend time or money on something
they don’t want. This fundamental
reality applies to consumer behavior across the board, including
I’ve also seen analyses of ticket
sales that shows there is a strong, statistically valid inverse relationship
between the word ‘premiere’ in a program – world, national or local — and
ticket sales. In other words, say
“premiere” in a classical context and you can count on lower attendance.
These are just the realities of the
orchestra business today. And here’s one
more cold, hard reality: if new music sold more
tickets, you can bet your bass clef orchestras would be doing a lot more of
I confess the data I see makes me
class=SpellE>kindaskeptical that the answer lies in whether or not we
play new music, in and of itself. I
sense that the answer is to connect.
class=GramE>And to deploy all the elements of the experience — the music, how it’s performed, how it’s presented, etc. etc. — towards that purpose.
class=GramE>And to deploy all the elements of the experience — the music, how
it’s performed, how it’s presented, etc. etc. — towards that purpose.
I think what you’re REALLY arguing,
Greg, is that we need to change the paradigm, challenge the assumption that
today’s audience is tomorrow’s audience, that today’s concerts are tomorrow’s
concerts, that today’s organizations are tomorrow’s organizations.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'>The tricky part is getting from today to
tomorrow; I can’t wait to see what you come up with.