I love the reactions to my “Solutions” post. Just as I’d hoped — people posting comments, telling us about their own solutions, their own new ways of presenting classical music. In Britain, the Netherlands, and the US.
Keep them coming!
I’ll try to feature as many as I can, not just in the sidebar I’ll create, but on the blog. Unless/until there are too many, of course, in which case we’ll have to figure out another way of getting them attention. Not that too many solutions would be a bad thing!
So here’s something from Matt Huber, who took my course on the future of classical music at Eastman, and offered this yesterday as a comment here. Note that his approach is very different from Erica Sipes’s, as unfolded in my first solution post. Which is as it should be. We’ve got to go in many directions at once.
An important point: That you can do a standard classical recital, and still get reborn attention for it.
Here’s Matt (note that comments to the blog are already public, so I feel free to repost them):
I don’t want to take anything away from Erica and her marvellous success in capturing her audience, but I still feel somewhere inside that a “regular” concert, if gone about the right way can attract a decent audience and good responses. Sure, with new music and obscure repertoire it’s certainly better to have something extra for the audience to hold on to. Whether it be visual arts, or whatever. And even with mainstream repertoire it probably works a treat. But i doubt most artists are ready to have projections on a screen while they play their Brahms sonatas…
However, I put on a concert a couple of years ago for charity (for head injuries from car accidents) and it was a huge success. I by no means am a local celebrity in my small town because, well, i’ve been in the States for many years but the turnout was 700 and the concert space was packed. Tickets were free and the audience were asked to give donations, of which a total of £6000 was raised on one night. Pretty good right?? My parents (both local GPs) handed out flyers to patients as they came through their doors, but apart from this no other advertising means were employed.
Now, a couple of things. Firstly it was for charity so whatever success there was cannot be projected as a sustainable business model, but local corporate sponsorship could have been courted to pay artist fees etc. and were I to do it again I would turn it in to a mini-series with a couple of major local sponsors. Secondly, one might say the audience came out of love for their doctors (my wonderful parents), but I for one would not go to another charity event that my doctor invited me to. Would you? Does this not show that a love for classical music must be inherently there?
Obviously the demographic of the audience was predominantly old, but despite this there were a number of young faces. I suppose there are stories like this amidst the impending doom of the industry. I’ve been invited back many times — would it now make any difference if I programmed some new-age visual/audio combo performance? Perhaps I’m just being naive.
Thanks, Matt. And you’re not naive at all, as far as I can see. You should give the kind of concert you want to give. That’s true for all classical musicians. No need to join a stampede toward new kinds of presentation, if that’s not your thing. The more we can build our market — and doing the kind of things Matt talks about can help do that — the more room there is for all kinds of concerts, including the traditional kind.