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June 21, 2007

Realtime Panel Discussion

by Molly Sheridan

Steve Tepper has kicked off the live discussion portion of this event with an audience survey. How many people use current technology features--message boards, podcasts, blogs, YouTube, video previews of their concerts--within their own organizations? The result: Not very many. But Conner suggests it will be important to develop in these areas if we want to attract young people who are interested in music in general. Bertozzi says that deepening technology will be mirrored by a desire to engage in live performances.

Conner says we do not "bowl alone". People are spending money going out; they're not home watching TV. But they're not necessarily in the concert hall. Gillinson stresses the fundamental shift that has a occurred on both sides of the pond due to a general lack of education in the arts. And the older people get, the more threatened they are by having to learn new things.

Q: Many people attend student concerts but not professional groups. Why?

McBurney suggests it's an issue of expense. Gillinson follows up that it's just an individual preference. Assink adds that it's not just cost, but also a connection to knowing the people making the music.

Q: How can an orchestra participate in unleashing the creativity of their audiences beyond public school education?

Assink says we need to connect with families, not just schools, when it comes to educating young people, supporting their child's musical training.

Q: Do we need money to do these things? What's the equation?

Conner: What we've discovered in Pittsburgh is that the money is incredibly important because you need to have talented mediators, not overburden/overworked individual doing other jobs in staff. It fails without dedicated individuals in those roles.

Q: In today's environment, how are we going to build our audience?

Assink suggest that on the low-tech side, why don't we have music clubs like we have book clubs.

McBurney says in Chicago they are using more elaborate screen projections that try to expand people's astonishment at what they can see. Close up images of a performer's manuscript to see what it is like. Also helps deal with the issue of intimate experience in large spaces.

Gillinson doesn't feel you need to be a musician to enjoy this music, but we are perceived a forbidding and we have to reach out much more.

Ivey takes the stage to conclude the session. He notes the hard line between the authors on the first half who saw big change ahead, as compared with the administrators who spoke during the second half and said things are not that bad and maybe we just need to proceed doing the excellent work that orchestras do.

But Ivey wonders: Who will be the future participants? Gen X and Y like music because "it is the soundtrack of life" and "it's a badge of cool." There are problems and opportunities there for the symphonic field. They like choice and control, they want all access (before/after/onstage and off). They want skillful, meaningful content, and they're looking for people to lead them. Passive, lackluster shows will not interest them.


Whew! We (and the technology) made it. Thanks for reading and writing in!

Posted by msheridan at June 21, 2007 3:09 PM


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