The future comes to Maryland

(Well, OK — maybe I’m overhyping this. But ever since I praised Schwalbe and Partners for the headlines on their press releases, I thought I’d better spiff up my own headlines. A work in progress.)

On April 13, my friend Peter Gregson will be coming to the University of Maryland, as part of the project I’m doing there. He’ll be doing two things — playing a new kind of digital recital (on his electric cello), and talking with students about everything he does. Which has included, as I’ve noted here before (for instance in yesterday’s post) working on the BBC Proms website, to make it go viral among younger people. He knows how to do that.

This is free, and open to the public. Discussion at 7 PM, concert at 8, at the Leah Smith lecture hall, room 2200, at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland. Here’s their page about the event.

Peter does extraordinary things. He’s got a new concert series in London, which he calls alt-classical, and which he’s launching April 7 in London with a live performance of his new album at the Hospital Club, where he’s in residence. You can read more about the things he does here. Follow all these links, and see how Peter very much does not have a standard classical career.

The digital concert works like this. Peter plays, and behind him is a video screen. People text and tweet comments on the music, which show up on the screen. And so a conversation develops about the performance, while it’s in progress. In Maryland, we’ll be limited to tweeting, because Peter’s texting setup works on a British network, and texts from anyone in the US will cost $3 each. But Twitter alone will work. If you’re not a Maryland student, and can’t access the university WiFi network, you can tweet from a smartphone.

Kara Neil, one of the Maryland students I’m working with, created a Facebook page to promote the event. Through the page, she invited more than 100 people, and quite a few are coming. The lecture hall (which doubles nicely as a little theater) holds just 90, so come early!

And about Kara’s page — this is how things work. We sent out email to the students, so they’d know Peter was coming. Within an hour, I’d swear, Kara had created the page. Within 24 hours, we had our performance space (if we count some of the “maybes” as likely to come) at least 1/3 filled. No press release, no newspaper feature, no advertising.

And how did I meet Peter? Through Twitter. He gave a solo cello concert at Twitter headquarters, streamed live. I listened, loved his playing, contacted him and told him so. He was going to be in New York the next day. We had coffee. The day after that, he visited my Juilliard class. The students loved him. He and I have been friends ever since, and when my Maryland project was picking up steam, it seemed natural to invite him, since he was making another visit to the US.

That’s how things work. Fast. Viral. Unpredictable. Spreading like fire.

(And I don’t think I overhyped the title of this post at all.)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. says

    Wow–sounds fantastic. Great to learn about Peter and see all he’s doing. I just forwarded this link to a student who’s writing a research paper on progressive cellists. Wish I could be in Maryland next week.

    And wonderful hyping in the title!