Common sense

financial pressure blog

When I asked in a post two weeks ago why we don't know precisely how orchestras (and other classical music institutions) are doing, I got some fascinating pushback. (As, of course, I've gotten before.) I'd made what I thought was the commonsense point that we do know how newspapers are doing (badly), and how the US auto industry did when it was in trouble. There was no dispute about these judgments, or about the data that supports them. So why are we in classical music so out of it? Why can't we agree on what's happening on our turf? … [Read more...]

My branding workshop — filling up fast

I am blog

Four people have already said they're seriously interested in the branding workshop I'll teach online. So now they and I need just two more people, at $200 each. Email me if you'd like to be one of them. To learn more, follow the link to read my announcement of the workshop. In an entrepreneurial world, everyone going into the market -- including classical musicians or ensembles or institutions looking for an audience -- needs a brand. Which simply means words and images -- or things that you regularly do -- that tell the world how you … [Read more...]

Learn branding with me

branding blog

I'm ready to teach an online workshop on branding for musicians, if six people sign up at $200 each. More below, but here's the backstory. A while ago I blogged about an entrepreneurship retreat -- the Road to Creativity retreat -- where I'd be teaching this workshop in June. But, sadly, the ROC retreat won't be happening this year. ROC's founder, my friend Connie Frigo, knows that there's demand there is for something like this. So she and her cosponors -- D'Addario (the musical instrument company) and Tayloe Harding, dean of the School … [Read more...]

More signs of the times

reinvent blog

Following up on a previous post, in which I talked about two concert series that used to be straight-down-the-middle classical, and how they're now going in new directions… Here's another example: the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Next season, they're presenting five operas: La bohème, The Magic Flute, Kevins Puts's Silent Night (which just won the Pulitzer Prize), Thomas Ades's Powder Her Face, and one of the least-performed Benjamin Britten operas, Owen Wingrave (in a student production by the Curtis Institute, which the opera company … [Read more...]

Something lovely in my Juilliard course

moving up blog

For years, I've ended my Juilliard course in the future of classical music with one simple exercise. I've asked my students to speak from the heart about a piece that they play (or sing, or have composed). To tell the world -- well, me and the class -- why they love it. The results have been, almost always, very moving. To see and hear people talking about anything with as much love as my students convey is -- quite seriously  -- inspiring. Year after year. This year, as you can see from the class schedule (this link goes to the same … [Read more...]

Let’s trust our supporters

trust blog

I'm amazed, truly amazed, at some of the pushback my recent posts have gotten. And maybe what amazes me most is the idea that we're going to hurt orchestras -- and all of classical music -- by talking about things that might be bad news for the field. Such as financial trouble, or declining ticket sales. Why do people say that talking about bad news will hurt us? Because -- allegedly -- it will scare away our supporters, especially those who give us money. Amazing. If we believe that, then we believe: (a) that our supporters (ticket … [Read more...]

Why don’t we know?

newspaper ad revenue cropped blog copy

As I look over the comments on my recent posts -- and of course over many things that have been done and said over the past few years -- I'm struck by something we don't seem to agree on. "We" being people involved professionally in classical music. And that's whether the field is in trouble. And, most pointedly, whether orchestras are in trouble, or whether they're essentially healthy. But then I have to ask why we're having this debate. Why don't we know? In the newspaper industry, for instance, there's no debate about how things stand. … [Read more...]

Signs of the times

Charles Lloyd - image from the Met Museum website

While we debate orchestra finances -- or re-re-re-redebate them -- the classical music world is changing. Changing quite a lot, I'd say. For instance: a press release arrived this week, announcing this year's Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center in New York. The first highlight cited is an exploration of birdsong, featuring three Messiaen concerts (Messiaen, of course, since he's the most prominent composer who loved and used bird songs). Plus preconcert birding tours in in Central Park, and a sound installation at the Park Avenue … [Read more...]

How not to do it

serious cat blog

Here's a link to a speech by Bruce Ridge, the chairman of ICSOM, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, which represents unionized musicians at 51 top American orchestras. The title of the speech? "Danger, Will Robinson! How Hyperbolic, Negative Rhetoric is Hurting America's Orchestras." And what Ridge says is that orchestras are in good shape, along with all of classical music, no matter how often we hear otherwise. Which is fine. He's entitled to his opinion. But his speech is a great disservice to his membership, … [Read more...]

Being creative, learning to brand

roc blog

I'll be teaching a workshop in June, at an entrepreneurship retreat for musicians. This retreat is something new, created by Connie Frigo's under her brand name Road of Creativity, Connie being a saxophonist, sax teacher at the University of Georgia, entrepreneur, and my friend. The dates are June 3 to 9, the place is the University of South Carolina's School of Music, which is the host, and has its own entrepreneurship center, the Carolina Institute for Leadership and Engagement in Music. A cosponsor is the D'Addario musical instrument … [Read more...]