Thanking your new audience

In my last post, I passed on an email from John Devlin, a graduate conducting student at the University of Maryland at College Park, and co-conductor of the school's Repertoire Orchestra. He'd had great success attracting a new audience to the orchestra's last concert, and his email explained some of how he did that.After the concert, he sent a thank-you email to the new people who'd come. You'd think this would be a no-brainer, but I don't know how often it's done in the classical music world. Elsewhere, of course, it's common. (My inbox is … [Read more...]

Another Maryland success

John Devlin is, along with Michael Jacko, co-conductor of UMRO -- the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra. (The school seems to specialize in baffling acronyms.) This is a group made up of students who aren't music majors, who play concerts of symphonic repertoire in casual dress, with great success. (Check out the performance of Beethoven's Seventh on John's website.) John supports my Maryland project with great enthusiasm, and in fact was the source of some of the ideas that helped UMSO (the Symphony Orchestra) and UMWO … [Read more...]

Download PDFs of my writing

As maybe the start of a larger effort to publish my writing on the web, I've made a ;; of my posts about awakening the audience. It's rewritten to be a single essay, and you easily can send it to your friends and colleagues. If you'd like it, please email me with "audience series" in the subject line, and I'll send the PDF to you by return email. Also available:My Australia talk, which -- when I posted it here -- I said was the best summary I've ever made of my current ideas about where classical music is going, and what we need to do. An essay … [Read more...]

Making it work — finishing (for now)

Here's the end of my series on awakening relationships -- relationships, of course, between classical music performing groups and their communities. Didn't know it would turn out to be so long. I call the post "finishing -- for now" because certainly there's more to say on all of this. ***Final installment (for now) -- excitement and surprise.There are few things, I think it's safe to say, less surprising than most classical performances. The music mostly is familiar. The musicians know it. The long-time audience knows it. Performances move … [Read more...]

Making it work — continuing

In my last few posts -- here, here, and here -- I've posed a problem (based on both things I've heard about, and my direct experience) about classical music and the community. (And thanks to so many people for so many thoughtful and supportive comments.)The problem, very simply, is that many people in a community, knowing that classical music is being performed, will think that the performances are likely to be nice enough. Which then leads them to say that maybe they should go sometime. As opposed to saying: "From everything I've heard, the … [Read more...]

Friendly and dignified

I talked in my last post about ways that classical performances could be friendlier, so the audience -- especially a new audience -- will feel welcome. I gave examples from the Baltimore Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, the Jackson Symphony, and other orchestras. In all of them, the musicians or the music director, or both, did something at a concert to welcome the audience. What these orchestras did might not seem dignified. Ask all the people coming to one of your concerts for the first time to raise their hands? Went over very well at the … [Read more...]

Making it work — being friendly

At the end of my last post, I was imagining an orchestra -- or any other classical music performing group -- that created some real sparks. And that made people eager to go to its performances. And, once they'd gone, to come back again.A group like that might, I wrote, have people saying:"I feel welcome when I go to concerts." "There's a feeling of excitement coming off the stage.""I'm always surprised by what they do." "The orchestra cares about things that I care about.""I can't wait to go again. I know that something fabulous will happen, … [Read more...]

Making it work

So how (picking up from my last post) would an orchestra -- or any classical music institution -- connect more vividly to its community?I don't claim to have answers. And even if I thought I knew some things that definitely work, I'd never offer a recipe. Institutions differ. They might not all feel comfortable doing everything that I or anybody else might suggest. And communities differ, too. (And then, within any given place, there's surely more than one community, more than one subculture in your town that you might connect with. That's … [Read more...]

Doing Jackson

When I was in Jackson, MI -- continuing from my last post, about my encounter with the orchestra there -- my mission was to help the orchestra think about how it could connect more strongly with its community. I don't remember if I asked Steve Osmond, the music and executive director (and my old friend from the Yale School of Music) to drain me dry, as I've routinely asked people who engage me as a consultant (or who bring me to visit their school). But Steve most definitely did that. I spent time with five groups of people; people from the … [Read more...]

Something new

Still catching up. I want to talk about my visit to Jackson, MI a couple of weeks ago (and apologies to my old and new friends there, who might have expected to see something about them here earlier). The outline: Stephen Osmond, an old friend of mine from graduate studies at the Yale School of Music (he was a tenor, I was a composer), is both music director and executive director of the Jackson Symphony. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but no way. Steve is outstanding in both roles. And fearless, I must say, in confronting his orchestra's … [Read more...]

Success in Maryland

I'm very late in reporting here what happened at the first student orchestra concerts at the College Park campus of the University of Maryland. I've written about my project there -- to work with music students to help them find an audience their own age. All last year I tried to lay some groundwork for this effort, which in some ways proved very complex. When this year began -- I mean this academic year -- I wondered if there was time to get anything going for the first orchestra concerts, which were on September 30 (the Wind Orchestra) and … [Read more...]

What I said in Amsterdam

...for what I said in the Netherlands. Or at least the reception seemed very warm for me. What I said, in my keynote talk at Amsterdam's Classical Music Day. was essentially what I said in Australia in my keynote talk at the classical music summit in Sydney. Our culture has changed; classical music hasn't kept up with the changes; that's why classical music is in trouble, why people aren't going to concerts, why the audience has aged. Plus, of course, all the signs of hope, all the changes being made in so many places, in so many ways, in … [Read more...]

Quotation of the day

From Lawrence Goldman, CEO of NJPAC, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He's going to step down to run a new real estate corporation NJPAC is starting:The arts centers that are going to be successful in the next decade or two are the ones that diversify their revenues, The basic economic model of presentations, tickets sales and fund-raising is beginning to break down.Note that NJPAC has been highly successful. As a New York Times story (the source of the quote) noted:The move does not reflect a state of emergency at the center, a need … [Read more...]

Adventurous conservatory

Continuing my report on my visit to the Netherlands...I visited the Koninklijk Conservatorium -- in English, the Royal Conservatory -- in The Hague, and spoke with the director of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (the Amsterdam Conservatory). These are the two largest Dutch music schools.And very quickly I could see differences between what happens there and what I know in the US. The Royal Conservatory is making big changes. All classical music students, for instance, are required to study improvisation! That really does deserve an exclamation … [Read more...]

The crisis, viewed from Amsterdam

There's something lovely about visiting another country, and not feeling entirely like a stranger. Here in Amsterdam I met people who read this blog, and ran into an American cellist who took one of my Juilliard courses and now plays in the Rubens Quartet (based here). And someone even came up to me with fond memories of one of the concerts I used to host with the Pittsburgh Symphony.That's apart from the warmth of my hosts at the Netherlands Music Center, and the truly gratifying interest from so many people in what I had to say, whether … [Read more...]