Here’s the complete list of ideas — for new ways of giving concerts — from the students at the National Orchestral Institute. Treat it as a footnote to the more focused list in my last post. There are lots of repeats, no surprise, especially since the students wrote down their ideas after a discussion in which there had been many ideas, and lots of agreement.
The point of all this? Go here for more explanation, beyond what’s in my last post. As I’ve said, these students are more than ready for change. And the NOI, in my experience, goes further in welcoming than any mainstream classical music institution I’ve ever encountered.
Some people in this blog community made critical comments on the students’ ideas, which I respect, but don’t agree with. The point, as I tried to say (but not effectively, I fear), isn’t whether these ideas seem good or bad, taken individually or even collectively, or whether they’re original. The point, to me, is that the students had them, and will absolutely be carrying some of them out. The process, I’m told in e-mail, is under way, and on June 25, there’ll be a concert where some of the ideas will be tried. I expect to be there, and I’ll report on what happens.
And this excites and empowers the students. That’s more important than getting everything right the first time they try things — especially since I’m not sure any of us know what’s right and what’s wrong, especially if we judge by what we’ve already seen. Sometimes the mood in which something is done can be just as important, if not more so, than what the thing is. The students, too, are younger than many of us, and many of them are thinking about what might appeal to people their own age, which some of us (not all, I know) might not be in a very good position to judge.
Anyhow, let them try their ideas, and we’ll see what all of us learn. The process set in motion here — young musicians making change at concerts that once were solidly mainstream — is more important than what any of us might feel about any particular thing that they do.
Here’s the complete list of changes. No need to read it, maybe, unless you’re intensely interested. I was struck by how little dissent there was. Only one student, unless I missed something, wanted to keep things as they’d been in the past.
Orchestra concerts should be more like baseball games. More people would go if there was a hot dog stand, casual dress, and drinking. I have a really hard time sitting through concerts, even though I obviously like music, so I don’t know how other people can be expected to sit there.
Happy hour before concert/intermission – $1 beers! This will both:draw an audience and make them more excited about what is going on onstage.
Orchestra/chamber music webcast
Audience members sit onstage in the midst of the orchestra
Chamber music (or solo pieces) in lobby before NOI concerts
Twitter messages on screen of audience’s thoughts during “New Lights” concert
Videotape our orchestra rehearsals, especially the conductorless rehearsals and put it online (website or youtube)
In concert, have someone (doesn’t have to be conductor) tell the audience a little story about the composer of the piece about to be played. We all know funny, tragic, dramatic storied about the music we play, and I’ve sen an audience laugh, relax, and be immediately more engaged when told one. And it relaxes the performers too.
Don Juan – theatrical realization of the story behind the music
Make up hand signals for the audience to do during certain obvious themes in the music.
I got this idea from a taco truck in L.A. that doesn’t have a set location: They twitter their changing location every night, and the line is usually very long. If we did small outdoor/indoor concerts around campus or College Park and tweeted our location, people could come and go as they like while offering publicity for NOI.
Webcam of rehearsals
Showing examples from the piece about to be played; not in an educational manner, but with excitement (as in Peter and the Wolf – playing all the themes in the beginning. Then it’s so much easier to understand the piece, especially if it’s contemporary.
Involving the audience somehow – putting thoughts through texts on video screen or email (but the audience would then need laptops!?).
I like the idea of having several orchestra members talk and give their honest opinions and feelings on the pieces being performed that night.
An idea from the Cypress quartet: Call and Response. Pick a symphony/work and commission a composer to write his own work in response to it.
Let’s screen Looney Tunes prior to New Lights; people will have trouble hearing thecartoon music origins of the Adams, otherwise, and it might provide a 1950’s style “overture”.
I just went on an orchestra tour where the audiences weren’t very familiar with classical music and they clapped between movements. But I think it actually served to create a better connection between performers and audience.
I think it would be really nice to have short profiles with the musicians in the orchestra put into the program. Maybe you would just have to have a few musicians, or I guess there could also be a program supplement iwht everyone. In that case maybe profiles could be self-created. In any case, it’s nice for the audience to have soe way of getting to know the musicians a bit better and especially how the musicians feel about the pieces they are performing, or how they feel about music in general, why they decided to become a musician, etc.
I definitely like the idea of having performers in the lobby beforehand. Maybe also at the end there could be a reception for people who wanted to stay and talk to the musicians.
Videos – orchestra players talking about music and themselves – Why do you play music? Why is this cool?
Performing chamber music at clubs or bars during sets of contrasting music (jazz,rock,etc.) and maybe having the two groups perform together.
Pop music arrangements
An idea which preserved the respect of individuals who enjoy the tradition of concerts (quiet audiences, etc. ) but informs the audience would be to have a conductor pre-record comments on and Ipod for download. The audience could listen along with the concert and get comments in “live” time. This was done by the Modesto Symphony in the Fall of ’08 and worked well.
Give audience members laser pointers and have them point at the orchestra member that they are watching.
Have a post-concert party where audience can meet and interact with performers
During the concert, when there’s a solo in one of the parts, we should have a blurb about the player (juicy gossip) displayed on a projector screen.
We should invite the audience to meet us before and after the concert, and also to be involved in the concert- clap for things they like…etc.
We can rehearse (chamber music) at a bar open to public drinking.
We should wear jeans instead of dress clothes.
As informal as possible (no concert attire)
Play in a non-traditional venue – non-concert hall.
Music and Video
Music with electronics.
Hells Orchestra – Reality TV show
6 degrees of separation – how members of NOI are connected before they met this summer (e.g. Jane dated Sara’s brother last summer, etc.)
Food and drinks – like in a jazz club
3 drink minimum
Scatter musicians throughout theater
Give out cookies
Scores to follow along on individual screens (like Met titles)
Dinner theater concert – serve food
Make a video documentary style of NOI (rehearsals, concerts, but also social interactions) could be put on youtube.
At concerts audition participants who want to performa a short non-classical “fun” piece they love in between the music.
Scripted lighting coordinated with the music. Fading in and out depending on the phrases, etc.
Visual elements projected next to performers: Movies, images, etc.
Text -messaging thoughts during a concert to be displayed on screen.
Atypcial concert dress. Black is boring. Musicians could wear something colorful and stimulating for the audience.
Other visual alternatives like lights would be awesome – coordinated with the music. Or pictures or movie clips.
Smaller performances in smaller spaces (i.e. coffee houses, small bars, etc.)
Have audience member sit in between us in the open rehearsal.
Let audience ask questions before pieces.
Chamber Music in the lobby before concert.
Outreach – bring classical music to people – clubs, bars, schools, rural areas, etc.
Orchestra comes on together at start of concert – no tuning, just play. European style
Include pop-band covers by orchestral instruments on New Lights concert
Eat during concert.
I was hoping we could have talked more specifically about what new to do in our concerts. I think it might be good to have a discussion among New Lights participants of something different or interesting to do. I have some ideas and will e-mail them. Thanks for having these talks. They’re fascinating.
Orchestra reality TV show
More interaction between performers and audience – such as quotes about the music from musicians put in the programs for the audience to read.
Chamber before concert in lobby.
Conductor video with comments and opinions about pieces on the concert or musicians from the orchestra
Food at concert
People attending concert sit on stage in midst of musicians
Play the music to Batman with the movie projected behind the orchestra (or any movie, really).
Other talents showcased before concert (dance, jazz, rap) then patrons can see us perform in orchestra.
Reality show about lives, hardships and drama that classical musicians go through and ut it on Youtube and let it generate interest on the internet.
Chamber music in lobby of concert
Interpretive dance on stage or floor during concert.
Lobby performances (NOi or Community groups)
Video clips of rehearsals/interviews with performers/ in lobby before concert and at intermission
Experiment with form’flow of concert – use of lighting
Mix genres within/without classical music world
NOI students get up and talk to audience about 1) their struggles with learning their parts and 2) how other interests they have relate to the piece
Play musical instruments within sections maybe between movements or during long periods of rest.
People in the orchestra wave to the audience whether they know each other or not. Probably before the concert starts.
I’m playing an Ysaye violin sonata (#2) and I’ve found my audience is much more interested when I explain how it is making fun of the Bach E-major Partita, and also the human aspect of how annyoning his friend was playing Bach, etc. Also the Dies Irae theme was cool.
How about a dress-up night? Example: Night of gypsy music.
Show motives/melodies to audience, explain how they fit in the big picture
The idea of having chamber groups play before a concert is nice (outside the hall)
Perform a piece/work in an untraditional space (i.e. club, bar, theater, coffeehouse)
Perform “untraditional” works in traditional setting (funny take on classical piece, etc.
Add media to music – have an artist paint a painting inspired by performance during performance. Add dancers, have authors write, etc.
Death and the Iron Maiden piece
Audience members coming up to the stage during intermission and asking questions (players remain onstage)
Food served during intermission! Mingling?
Standing while playing.
NOI is perfect. Don’t change anything.Profiles of orchestra musicians that give details about them not necessarily related to music.
Performances in the lobby before concerts.
Hire bands like Metallica for pops concerts, or play much better music like Batman or new movies rather than the dated stuff that is usually played.