Just Play for the Music

My dad was diagnosed with recurrent kidney cancer in May 2014.  One month ago, he lost the long battle against cancer and I lost my hero.  He was the man who introduced me to classical music.

The story and legacy of my father is one of an immigrant, a medical doctor, a proud American citizen, and beloved family man.  He was born in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), however, he was raised in Iran.  He moved to Tehran, Iran with his family when he was just two years old and resided there throughout his childhood.  A Methodist missionary assisted my dad in getting into college in the U.S.  At the age of 18, my dad arrived in New York, and ultimately made a career as an open heart surgeon.  He eventually saved up enough money to bring his mother and then his sister to the United States.  His father, head of a construction company that built many bridges and roads throughout Tehran, passed away before he had the chance to touch U.S. soil.

He was known for his precision and patience in the operating room and as a medical professor.  I was so moved to learn that the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UNC started a Visiting Professorship Fund in my dad’s honor.  Another doctor and friend of my dad’s had driven down from his home in Virginia on three separate occasions to visit with my dad while he was ill, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at my dad’s memorial.  We received numerous, touching letters from friends, family, colleagues, and family members of patients, all who had been impacted my dad’s work and life and expressing thanks and appreciation for all that he did and stood for.

My father lived a well balanced life and enjoyed so many things, including figuring out how things work and fixing things on his own; monitoring and trading on the stock market; skiing, swimming, and running; dark chocolate, nuts, coffee with cream (but no sugar), and burnt toast — his mother and sister loved their toast this way too!  And boy, was he a softy for dogs!  He took me to symphonies, operas, and ballets starting when I was only a child, which turned into a love of classical music that we shared.  He was an opera buff and bass singer in his own right, and once upon a time, he auditioned for the MET.

My love of classical music turned into a career.  I went to school for music education (instrumental) and performed for 5 years with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina on flute/piccolo.  Later, I went on to complete my graduate school degree in arts management in at American University in Washington, DC.  Despite hours of practice and years of performing, I would always get nervous before a concert.  My brother and I always admired my dad for his wisdom and the advice he offered turned into my personal and professional mantra.  “Catherine, you’ve done the work…just play for the music.”  This helped me focus on what mattered and enjoy the essence of classical music – the artistry, expression, and beauty of sound and storytelling through music.  I had practiced the technique and done the hard work and now it was time to let the emotion of the music shine through.

One of my dad’s favorite opera singers was Maria Callas and he had always hoped for an opportunity for me to play the flute part in Casta Diva from Billini’s opera ‘Norma’.  I haven’t yet had that chance, but hopefully someday I will.  And in honor of my dad, I’ll make sure to play for the music.

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You’ve Cott Mail: Some thoughts on how to connect Millennials with classical music

In the May 1st, 2014 edition of You’ve Cott Mail, the topic of conversation was how to connect Millennials with Classical Music.  Copied below are some of the thoughts shared around this topic.  In what’s to come, some of the key factors in engaging Millennials emerge – the importance of trust and social consciousness, consideration of themed programming and relaxed atmosphere in entertainment, and breaking convention through social technology.  These examples, of course, could never speak for an entire generation and (heads up) they certainly shouldn’t reduce Millennials down to whiny, pot-smoking, sex-crazed social media users in our minds’ eye.  I think these authors are simply pointing out that each generation has different interests and expectations that require different kinds of attention.  It is also important for long-standing art forms and those who run our cultural institutions to remain open to change and be welcoming to all generations through their outward approach and community involvement, organizational innovation and programmatic offerings, and social atmosphere.

Would you agree/disagree?  What are your thoughts on how to connect Millennials with Classical Music? I’d love to hear from you.

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You’ve Cott Mail: Some thoughts on how to connect Millennials with classical music
May 1, 2014

COMMENTARY: To attract millennials, be more socially conscious
Cellist/composer Peter Sachon on his blog, 4/8/14

Orchestras need to offer compelling reasons for millennials to make live symphonic music a part of their lives.  After all, millennials are the largest generation in human history, and at nearly 90 million people they will very soon make up the vast majority of our orchestras’ stakeholders, constituents, audience, staff members and supporters – and instrumentalists.  By 2017, they will surpass the buying power of the baby boomer generation.  There is simply no generation in the next forty years that will have the size and potential purchasing power to influence American orchestras more than millennials.  While orchestras aren’t the only institutions that have abandoned the young, they can still be among the first to reclaim them — and in so doing they can begin to reclaim the position of live orchestral music in American culture. These millennials have very different expectations for nonprofits than baby boomers.  Their expectations that nonprofits be socially conscious institutions goes beyond what is traditionally expected, especially from performing arts organizations.  Being able to trust a nonprofit organization and its mission is very important to compelling millennials to attend and donate.  One telling statistic is that nine out of ten millennials would stop giving to an organization that had lost their trust.  American classical institutions’ stoic reactions to human rights abuses is making that trust difficult to develop.  For example, when Pussy Riot was sentenced to two years in a labor camp for a peaceful political protest, many of those 90 million American millennials along with people like Madonna, Sting, Yoko Ono, Björk, Moby, Peter Gabriel, and more than a dozen international papers as well as the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the New Yorker Magazine all publicly supported Pussy Riot’s human right to peaceful protest.  And yet, even after so many people across a range of musical and intellectual disciplines voiced their support, not one American orchestra dared even a tweet. Things were no different after Russia enacted Putin’s outrageous anti-gay law.  The Metropolitan Opera attempted to be detached from the controversy while protesters pointed out that two of Putin’s most visible supporters led the Met’s season-opening production.  The famed music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, refuses to speak out against Maduro’s government, even after students were beaten and arrested during his concertizing in Venezuela. Orchestras can play at being apolitical, but their choices have political resonance whether they like it or not.  Given how important trust is to millennials’ interactions with nonprofits, the idea that institutions should refrain from voicing widely-held human rights positions is silly and counter-productive.  The worry of upsetting existing donors pales in comparison to the danger posed to orchestras who undervalue the changes brought by the millennial generation. It also doesn’t hurt that speaking out against human rights abuses is the right thing to do.

Connecting classical music to millennials with bring-your-own-marijuana concerts
Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Denver Post, 4/29/14

The cultural revolution that is making marijuana part of everyday Denver life conquered another established front Tuesday as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra announced a series of performances sponsored by the cannabis industry. The concerts, organized by pro-pot promoter Edible Events, will start May 23 with three bring-your-own marijuana events at the Space Gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe arts district and culminate with a large, outdoor performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Sept. 13. The events are being billed as fundraisers for the CSO, which will curate a themed program of classical music for each show. While acknowledging that the arrangement is unusual, even groundbreaking, CSO executive director Jerry Kern said the concerts will help the orchestra reach beyond its conservative, fine arts demographic while raising money for an organization that has struggled financially in recent years. “We see ourselves as connecting classical music with all of Colorado,” said Kern. “Part of our goal is to bring in a younger audience and a more diverse audience, and I would suggest that the patrons of the cannabis industry are both younger and more diverse than the patrons of the symphony orchestra.”  The connection between classical music and marijuana culture is surprising on its surface. But the partnership may be logical for the CSO in particular, which has worked hard in recent years to present a more democratic lineup. It still has its Beethoven and Brahms concerts, where cellists dress in tuxedos and tradition rules, but it has been playing more contemporary music and collaborating on concerts with pop acts. Orchestra musicians are already set to play Red Rocks shows Aug. 8 and 9 with Pretty Lights, one of the biggest acts in electronic dance music, a genre widely associated with marijuana and harder substances like Ecstasy.  As trumpet player Justin Bartels points out, the musicians have already smelled the waft of marijuana smoke at shows, and playing before mind-altered audiences won’t be shocking. “Denver is a different kind of city, and you have to program your orchestra for the community you’re in,” he said.

COMMENTARY:
To attract millennials, dancers twerk to classical music
Joel Eastwood, Toronto Star, 4/23/14

You rarely use the words “twerking” and “classical music” in the same sentence. But that’s the only way to describe a controversial new music video that fuses a piece of classical music with a gyrating, scantily clad Korean dance troupe. The eye-popping video was masterminded by a Belgian classical music festival in a bid to bring a century-old symphony to new ears. It seems to have worked — the clip has racked up more than 1.7 million views in the past week. “It is indeed a very different clip than your average YouTube clip,” explained Frank Peters, a Dutch classical pianist and the spokesperson for the B-Classic music festival, in a short documentary accompanying the music video. “I’m not convinced that youth are uninterested in classical music. I think that it’s simply more difficult for them to discover,” said Sam De Bruyn, a radio DJ in Brussels. Because YouTube has become an essential engine for discovering and listening to music, an engaging music video is essential to grabbing people’s attention, De Bruyn said. So the B-Classic music festival commissioned director Raf Reyntjens to make the video with Korean pop-dance group Waveya, who are YouTube stars in their own right. Unlike the pop songs they normally move to, the dancers are twerking to Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, composed in 1893. Dvorak, who lived from 1841 to 1904, was a rock star in his day. “Everywhere he went, something happened, the atmosphere changed, and people were enraptured and moved by his music,” Peters said. The video tries to reignite that popularity with a new generation. But not everyone thinks classical twerking is an appropriate combination. “It comes across as hollow and trashy,” writes Michael Vincent on the classical music blog Musical Toronto. Other commenters argue classical music doesn’t need to resort to modern dance moves to stay relevant. “The two just don’t connect for me and, to be honest, it feels somewhat embarrassing,” writes Clyde Smith on Hypebot.  Regardless, the critics might be in for more disappointing videos — B-Classic is calling on people to create their own Classical Comeback videos “to give classical music the audience it deserves.”

Restoring Classical Music in the New Millennium – Part 3

Recap of Parts 1 & 2:

PART 1: The first installment of the “Restoring Classical Music in the New Millennium” series placed the spotlight on a couple of young and talented classical musicians.  At the same time, it helped demonstrate the charitable nature that is characteristic of the Millennial generation as a whole.  Illustrating young talent and their attention to benefiting the greater good, I shared the stories of two amazing Millennial classical musicians: Jourdan Urbach, a 21 year-old violinist and philanthropist, and Nicola Benedetti, a lovely 25-year-old violinist with a passion for music education.

PART 2: The second installment highlighted Nadia Sirota, a 30 year-old violia player with a flair of hip hop, and Gustavo Dudamel, the 32-year-old “Dude” of the LA Phil, brandishing his conductor’s baton. Together they symbolize the fire, spirit, and ingenuity of the Millennial generation.  Although they come from very different backgrounds, they align on the international stage as performing artists trying to make a positive difference in the world through the amazing power of music.
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As for PART 3 of this series, we explore the backgrounds and accomplishments of an extraordinarily hip pianist and a tremendous violinist with a rather quirky sense of humor. Let’s begin our third round with pop icon and internationally acclaimed concert pianist, Lang Lang.lang-lang-2
LANG LANG
Lang Lang exemplifies the hope, wonder, and excitement of achieving the American Dream. Since a young age, Lang Lang has impacted others through his piano performance. Now, at the age of 31, Lang Lang has become a globally recognized classical music ambassador and icon for the next generation of concertgoers and performers with his own new-age flair.

A Piano Prodigy
Lang Lang’s journey began in Shenyang, China, his hometown.[1] He began studying the piano at the age of three, played his first public performance at the age of five, and has since progressed with only extraordinary outcomes.[2] From conservatories to competitions and piano performances, Lang Lang has made a name for himself in the new world of classical music.Lang_Time

He joined the Beijing’s Central Music Conservatory at the age of nine, and by the time he was 13, Lang Lang had become an international sensation.[3] After winning the renowned Tchaikovsky International Young Musicians’ Competition,[4] he set off for America to study at one of the world’s greatest classical music conservatories – the Curtis Institute of Music.[5] Like something out of a movie, Lang Lang performed a Tchaikovksy concerto in place of world-famous pianist, André Watts, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.[6] Thus, at the ripe old age of 17, Lang Lang the classical music superstar was born.

The Hottest Artist in Classical Music
The New York Times has proclaimed Lang Lang to be one of the “hottest stars in classical music.”[7] Not only is Lang Lang young and extremely talented, he also has a fashion-forward sense of style and seemingly endless amount of energy that, in my opinion, has helped to rejuvenate classical music performance and Millennial interest in this important art-form.Lang_adidas

Classical music meets pop-culture with Lang Lang at the keyboard. In 2009, he released his limited edition black and gold, piano theme Adidas Gazelles. From major sporting events and open-air concerts, to Hollywood films, dub-step and social media inspired collaborations, and the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, Lang Lang is engaging listeners and performers in new ways. He actively expands the musical horizons of those young and old and has proven himself to be a new-age master of classical music performance and an inspiration to the next generation of musical artists. (Stay tuned for Hilary Hanh, soon to follow in Part 3!)lang-lang-spotlight

LANG LANG
Age: 31

Nationality: Chinese
Instrument: Piano

Claim to Fame: Piano prodigy and internationally recognized classical musician; Lang Lang International Music Foundation

Facebook: 113,789 likes – Lang Lang Piano
Twitter: 44,193 Followers – @lang_lang
Website:
www.langlang.com; www.langlang.com/adidas


[1] http://www.langlang.com/biography
[2] ibid.
[3] ibid.
[4] ibid.
[5] http://www.curtis.edu/about-curtis/history/timeline/
[6] http://www.langlang.com/biography
[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/04/arts/music/04clas.html

Full Series: Restoring Classical Music in the New Millenium – Millennial Magazine

Millennial Classical Musicians: A Who’s Who of Rising Classical Stars (Part 1)

By Catherine StarekClassical Music Contributor, Gen Y Hub’s Millennial Magazine

Classical music…it’s stuffy, boring, and something that only old people enjoy, right? I beg to differ (and I’ll prove it to you)! While the term “classical” may be misleading, classical music is actually a very exciting, inspiring, and powerful musical genre. Millennial musicians are not only embracing the past, they are also shaping the future of classical music performance and putting a fresh twist on what it means to be a classical musician. As a fellow Millennial and modern classical musician, I am happy to shine a growing spotlight on a hand-selected list of young classical superstars. Stay tuned throughout the Millennial Classical Musicians mini-series to get the scoop on all eight of these fantastic modern musicians.

• Jourdan Urbach –
21, violin
• Nicola Benedetti – 25, violin
• Alisa Weilerstein – 30, cello
• Nadia Sirota – 30, viola
• Gustavo Dudamel – 31 32, baton
• Lang Lang – 31, piano
• Hilary Hanh – 31, violin
• Cameron Carpenter – 32, organ

Classical Context
When talking about classical music, however – an era of music that emerged around 1750 – it’s difficult to keep history out of the conversation. Don’t worry though, I promise to keep it brief! The classical music era extends from the mid-18th to the early-19th centuries (c. 1750 – c. 1830).[1] This era is often associated with the works of Beethoven and Mozart, two of the most well known and respected classical musicians and composers in the world.

Modern Classical Musicians
Fast-forward to the 21st century and classical music is still widely heard, appreciated, and performed. Millennial musicians are mastering the classical style, while infusing their personalities, passions, and interests into their performances. The first of eight musicians in the Millennial Classical Musicians line up is 21-year-old, American concert violinist Jourdan Urbach.

JOURDAN URBACH – Musician, Composer, and Philanthropist
JourdanUrbach2Jourdan Urbach was born in December of 1991. Just seven years later, Jourdan hit the stage, making his professional debut on the violin. For comparison, Mozart premiered around the age of five. Music critics delight in Jourdan’s “buttery smooth” sound and the brilliance and technical acuity of his playing. Recognized as a child prodigy, this young superstar has already become a Grammy-winning concert violinist. He has even had the rare opportunity to perform – twice – as a featured artist at Carnegie Hall, an internationally renowned concert hall in Manhattan.

The pressure to succeed is understandably intense in these high-profile performances. His strong love of music, however, and positive attitude helps to carry him through. He reflects on the performing experience and his mindset as a modern classical musician in a 2011 interview with Charles Osgood, “I get a huge rush out of performing,” he shares, “and I can tolerate the practice because I know it leads up to that.”

Jourdan Urbach performing Aerion:

The Cherry On Top
Jourdan Urbach is not only a tremendously talented musician, he’s also passionately philanthropic and participates in what he calls “Responsible Music.” According to Jourdan, “music is designed to be heard, but it is also to be used to further the greater good.” In this spirit, he founded Concerts for a Cure (originally Children Helping Children) when he was just seven years old. Over the past 14 years, his charity has raised more than $5 million through classical music, benefiting children in New York hospitals and the international medical community. Jourdan’s musical and philanthropic passions play an important role in his service as an international representative of the United Nations’ Arts for Peace program that he promotes on his website,  “As a Goodwill Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence for UN (Arts for Peace), Jourdan serves as a cultural link between the UN community and the artistic community in NY and abroad.”

Jourdan actively impacts the world through his music and dedication to society. As a modern classical music performer and composer, he is vibrant, successful, and clearly high in demand. I look forward to watching his music career and charitable efforts grow and evolve, affecting the hearts and minds of people around the world.

JourdanUrbach

JOURDAN URBACH
Age: 21
Nationality: American
Instrument: Violin
Claim to Fame: Grammy-winning concert violinist; Contemporary composer; Founder of Children Helping Children
Facebook: JourdanUrbachMusic

Twitter: @JourdanUrbach
Website: jourdanurbach.com

As we move on to the second remarkable Millennial classical musician on the list, you’ll see how she impacts society through her music and advocacy efforts as well, and has risen to classical stardom with modern flair.

NICOLA BENEDETTI – The Silver Violinist
Introducing the ravishing, young classical violinist, Nicola Benedetti. This beautiful, Scotland native has already captured the hearts (and ears) of audiences throughout Great Britain and across the world. She will turn 26 in July.

NicolaBenedettiNicola’s musical journey began when she started violin lessons at the age of five. Approximately ten years later, she entered the Yehudi Menuhin School (YMS) in Surrey and studied with the acclaimed violin professor Natalia Boyarsky. After leaving YMS, she continued to develop her musical talent as a student of the Polish and Russian violinists, Maciej Rakowski and Pavel Vernikov, respectively. Her talents have been featured with professional symphonies and among prominent music festivals and events all over the world. And when she’s not touring, she enjoys playing regularly in her chamber trio with cellist (and also boyfriend of 10 years) Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk.

Big Sister
Nicola is also fiercely dedicated to music education and participates as a “Big Sister” and Board Member for Sistema Scotland. In recognition for her service to music and charity, she was appointed by the Queen of England to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours.

Life Achievements
Since the launch of her career as a modern classical musician, Nicola has managed to accumulate a spectacular list of accomplishments:

  • BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004, performing the unconventional Szymanowski Violin Concerto
  • Recipient of the Classical BRIT Award for Young British Classic Performer in 2008
  • Debuted at the 2010 BBC Proms
  • Signed exclusively with Decca Classics in 2011
  • Best Female Artist at the Classic Brits in 2012
  • Listed as Classical “Best Female Artist” in iTunes Best of 2012
  • Released a tremendously successful CD, The Silver Violin

The Silver Violin on SoundCloud:

Bringing Sexy Back to Classical Music
Nicola produces the warmest and most heartfelt violin tones. She plays the Gariel Stradivarius (c. 1717), which is considered to be one of the highest quality and most valuable violins in the world – it’s considered the Gucci of instruments. Her modern-day patron, bank executive Jonathan Moulds, purchased the Strad for her to play for a mere £10 million, or the equivalent of nearly $15.5 million today.

Although she is known for her performance of classical music, she is also unafraid to dive into a wide variety of repertoire. Her latest album The Silver Violin is Hollywood gold, bringing the iconic sounds of the silver screen to her Silver Violin. The enormous success of her CD led to The Silver Violin Tour, which took place this past March in nine venues across Scotland.

NicolaBenedetti2

NICOLA BENEDETTI
Age: 25
Nationality: Scottish/Italian
Instrument: Violin
Claim to Fame: Best Female Classical Artist; plays the Gariel Stradivarius; Sistema Scotland – Big Sister and Board Member
Facebook: Nicola Benedetti Violin

Twitter: @NickyBenedetti
Website: nicolabenedetti.co.uk

Millennial musicians, such as violinists Nicola Benedetti and Jourdan Urbach, are taking the world’s stage by storm; challenging convention; and providing amazing classical music performances for growing audiences, excited listeners, and a variety of populations across the globe. Through music, modern classical musicians are conveying a message of passion and beauty, education and healing, and perhaps most of all, a message of encouragement and hope.

The next article in the Millennial Classical Musicians mini-series will feature a pioneering violist, and one of the greatest advocates for El Sistema, a revolutionary music education program originating in Venezuela; His weapon of choice – the baton.

Originally Published June 28, 2013 – genyhub.com

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[1] http://www.naxos.com/education/brief_history.asp

The New (Musical) Google Motif

We have been hearing a lot lately about why and how songs get stuck in our head. Well, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony contains four of the stickiest notes ever composed – the famous short-short-short-long motif.  This has been getting stuck in the heads of audiences all over the world for more than 200 years.  Google Chrome has taken a Classical music approach to their new ad campaign – Google: Now Everywhere – featuring this recognizable motif.

Google Chrome is known for their creativity and bold, primary colors kind of personality.  Listen to Google’s brand conveyed through the power of Beethoven’s 5th.

Google has also leveraged the energizing, recognizable music of the William Tell Overture (from the Romantic era) in their new commercial – Chromebook: For Everyday.

With Lady Gaga and Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy tunes floating across the airwaves, and never leaving our heads, scientists in the UK wanted to know more about why this happens and how to override the stickiness factor.  ABC NEWS recently reported on their discovery on how to get rid of pesky earworms (not that you would want to stop hearing Beethoven’s music!), but I’m sure Google Chrome hopes you’ll put up with some of those sticky motifs a little while longer.

SURVEY RESULTS: What People Really Think About Classical Music and Symphony Orchestra Performance in the 21st C.

GRADUATE RESEARCH SURVEY 2013 – CLASSICAL MUSIC AND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PERFORMANCE (SUMMARY OF RESULTS)

110 responses

1. Which generation do you represent? (Upper age limit adjusted as of 2012)

The Millennial Generation – Those born after 1980 – the first generation to come into adulthood in the new millennium; ages 18-32 62 56%
Generation X – People born from 1965-1980; ages 32-47 25 23%
The Baby Boomers – Those born between 1946 and 1964, associated with the fertility spike following WWII; ages 48-66 23 21%
The Silent Generation – Adults born during the Great Depression and WWII, between 1928-1945; ages 67-84 0 0%
The Greatest Generation – The generation that fought and won WWII, the adults born before 1928; ages 84+ 0 0%

2. What is your gender?

Female 79 72%
Male 31 28%

3. Is there a particular instance or influence that first attracted you to classical music?

Musicians in your family 32 29%
Music teacher 20 18%
Friends 6 5%
Particular performance 15 14%
Multimedia – movies, video games, TV shows, YouTube, etc. 14 13%
Other 23 21%

4. When was the last time you attended a symphony orchestra performance?

Within the past 3 months 57 52%
Within the past 6 months 9 8%
Within the past year 16 15%
Within the past 2 years 12 11%
Between 2 and 5 years ago 8 7%
Five years + 5 5%
Never been 3 3%

5. When and by whom were you first introduced to symphony performance?

As a child, by your parents or family 50 45%
During a field trip in primary school (ages 5-10) 23 21%
In secondary school, through friends, teacher(s), a mentor, band (ages 11-17) 24 22%
Private music lessons, by a teacher or peers 3 3%
During college, through peers, classes, professors, advisors, school performances, local orchestra (18+) 8 7%
Other 2 2%
Comments
  • My father has been involved with classical music as a child himself; therefore, he wanted to instill the same traditions into his daughter. As a child, he would play Harold in Italy by Berlioz for me and I would dance along with the melody. From this moment, he knew that I would play the viola.
  • I was in High School.
  • I saw a lot of band concerts because I was in band.
  • I (joined) the Symphony orchestra at the University.
  • Wolf Trap summer children’s festival. Also school field trips to the Kennedy Center.
  • Our public school district in north Jersey had a strong, well-supported music program.
  • My high school…

6. What in your opinion are the biggest challenges facing symphony orchestras, especially when it comes to engaging younger audiences in live performance?

Programming – concert selections, musical time period, etc. 16 15%
Expense 16 15%
Concert experience 17 15%
Lack of interest 50 45%
Other 11 10%
Comments
  • I was an intern at the Kennedy Center for September through December in 2012 and attended many of their performances during that period. I think the NSO Pops drew the youngest average crowd for an orchestra production, but I’m not sure if that was due to the repertoire or the novelty. The concert experience itself does seem the most important element to me though, as everyone wanted to be there for this unique event.
  • pieces need to be fun and upbeat in order to get younger audiences interested. I am a musician myself, and I still get bored at orchestra concerts sometimes…

7. How do you participate in orchestra performance most often?

Listening to broadcasts and/or recordings 40 36%
Creating music – composition, performance, etc. 22 20%
Online – YouTube, streaming, Spotify, etc. 21 19%
Mobile devises – iPod, cell phones, iPad, etc. 9 8%
Other 18 16%
Comments
  • General Manager of the Capital City Symphony
  • Also most often an audience member.
  • Violinist in the AUSO (American University Symphony Orchestra)
  • Public radio
  • I’m also learning how to compose my own contemporary classical pieces. I frequently use Pandora and have several stations from different periods of music. I most often listen to the station created around Sergi Prokofiev and the Romantic period.
  • I have a large collection of music on my computer, and I keep meaning to buy the .99 cent master collection albums from Amazon. (100 tracks for 99 cents) …

8. If you had the option, how would you prefer to participate in orchestra performance?

Listening to broadcasts and/or recordings 20 18%
Creating music – composition, performance, etc. 49 45%
Online – YouTube, streaming, Spotify, etc. 7 6%
Mobile devises – iPod, cell phones, iPad, etc. 4 4%
Other 30 27%
Comments
  • While I do feel live performances are often the best way to experience a show from an audience perspective, online viewing does create a nice substitute though. Being able to see the performers does add another level of involvement, even if doing so from home, because the audience relates the physicality involved with producing the music.
  • Performance
  • The other options should always support and encourage people to attend (frequently) the live in-person experience, which is second to none.
  • On-line streaming could also be useful
  • I would love to compose or play, but I haven’t received the training…

9. If you could choose, what would you like orchestras to do differently? (change, do more/less of, add new, etc.?)

Concert timing (days, time of day, time of year) 14 13%
Musicians’ dress 5 5%
Programming (Classical, pops, contemporary, etc.) 35 32%
Technology 18 16%
Composers and/or artists 7 6%
Other 31 28%
Comments
  • Work with other groups to expand audience. Cross-pollinate!
  • Our minds have become overwhelmed with stimulus, and we are accustomed to bigger and better. With technology today, pairing orchestral performances with dance, aerial cirque acts, light shows, and video footage gives the active mind more to do and fortifies the experience so shelling out the $100 a ticket is more likely.
  • Evening performances are the norm for a working public, but I would love to see more daytime performances.
  • I think the orchestra has to do more to draw people in especially through social media, free events…

10. What else (ideas, experiences, opinions, suggestions, etc.) would you like to share about engaging audiences (current and new) in classical music or symphony performance?

  • Overall making performances relevant to current audiences, including programming, accessibility, concert experience, online interaction, etc.
  • Orchestra musicians, conductor and the soloist should come out from their backstage dressing rooms and greet the audience members after performances. It’s a more intimate feeling than just playing on stage.
  • As a performer, I find it is difficult to engage current audiences in classical music because of the general notion that it all sounds like Mozart or is boring. I would like to spend more time encouraging my friends to listen to more music that is not as predictable by taking them with me to more live performances or encouraging them to see me play. I feel it is always more interesting and engaging as an audience member to see someone you know up on stage performing.
Number of daily responses

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Special Thanks:
My professors in the arts management department at AU; Millennial blog platform, GenYHub and GenYTV rep, Marni G.; Professor Marc Whitt and his PR and Music Industry students at EKU; musicians in the AUSO; Audience Development Specialist, Shoshana FanizzaDr. Michael Ryan, ED of Fine Arts in Fort Worth I.S.D. (Independent School District); Twitter followers: Zero2Maestro, Harpist Nadia P., arts marketer Connie R.LibraryOboistSinfonia TorontoPolyphonic, American Composer Christopher James Lee, PV (Pioneer Valley) Symphony, Ilias Ntais of enchoris, Emily Davis President of Emily Davis (EDA) Consulting, and the League of American Orchestras.

Also, thanks to anyone who has taken interest in my work, shared my survey, or offered their thoughts, ideas, encouragement, or advice!

Graduate Research Survey: Classical Music and Symphony Orchestra Performance

Classical Music and Symphony Orchestra Performance

Purpose and Source: I created this survey in order to gather current perspectives and insights on classical music and symphony orchestra performance.

Estimated Time: This survey should take about 5-10 minutes to complete, depending on the depth of responses. Please take as much time as you need, however, and answer to the best of your ability.

Confidentiality: I value your time and effort. Please know that your responses are contributing to my graduate research project in arts management at American University, and participation is voluntary. You can always contact me with questions or concerns at: cs4868a@american.edu 

Participants: If you a receiving this directly, I have chosen to contact you or a corresponding group based on previous interactions. That being said, I encourage you to share this survey with contacts and friends for the benefit of the research.

Thank you for consideration! You are an important part of the puzzle. Click here to begin.

*Please respond by March 10, 2013, and stay tuned for the results!

Source: Wikimedia Commons Author Superbmust

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons – Superbmust

Creative Commons License
Classical Music and Symphony Orchestras in the 21st C. (Graduate Research Survey 2013) by Catherine Starek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond…

I haven’t posted a weekly photo in a while and I miss it!  I thought this would be a nice way to return to the WPC community. : )

As a young-adult musician and classical music lover, one of my dreams is to visit and experience the arts at the Sydney Opera House in Australia (image below).

My dad listens to opera every day. Having the opportunity and encouragement to experience this art-form at home and in-person certainly played an important role in my cultural upbringing. (My mom prefers Motown and oldies, but that’s another story!)

Music, regardless of the genre, has the power to communicate beyond words. Musical experiences often remind listeners of special memories, emotions, people, places, and other personally significant aspects of life. Music has the ability to tell a meaningful story without having to speak a word, bringing all types of people together in a shared experience.

How has music influenced your life?  What experiences would you like to share?

I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks for stopping by.

SydneyOperaHouse

Image Source: Trey Ratcliff at www.stuckincustoms.com

Top 6 Orchestra Flashmobs — Acts of Robust Hit-and-Run Culture in Public Spaces (reblog)

Based on original post by Chase Jarvis on January 8, 2013

There’s one thing about classical music that I’ve always believed: it is far better to see it performed than to hear a recording of it. While this is true for just about all kinds of music, the multi-layered nature of classical compositions (especially pieces that call for large orchestras) make in-person performances even more appealing.

And when those performances occur in public spaces, the experience is all the more radical. Breaking out of the confines of concert halls with perfect acoustics and controlled environments and moving into the chaos that is a flashmob — here are six of my favorite classical hit-and-run performances from all over the world.

Ode to Joy in Catalonia
One hundred people from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs came together in a square in Catalonia, Spain, to perform Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. It was beautifully filmed and as far as flashmobs go, this performance ranks up there with the best of them.

Peer Gynt on a Metro
The Copenhagen Philharmonic surprised metro passengers with a performance of Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt in a fairly crowded compartment. The looks of sheer pleasure on many of the passengers’ faces are just as entrancing as the music.

The CPHPHIL strikes again
The Copenhagen Philharmonic apparently likes this sort of “art in the public sphere” thing. Here they are again, with a performance of Ravel’s Bolero.

Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi in Indy
Lest you think all good things only happen in Europe, we present a string company from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, rendering a masterful performance of pieces from Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi in the Keystone Fashion Mall in Indianapolis. Classical music in the Midwest? For. The. Win.

The Canadians Handel Business Too
North of the border, our Canadian cousins got a nice surprise when a bunch of vocalists popped up in a mall food court and belted out Handel’s Hallelujah chorus.

… and back to Europe
Those Europeans may not have all the classical flashmobs, but they seem to have some of the best. This list comes to a close in Vienna, Austria, where Solistinnen, Chor und Orchester der Volksoper Wien renders an absolutely stunning performance at the Westbahnhof Wien. Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana has been performed many times before, but I doubt those performances had dancers who went undercover as janitors or rail officials.

Do you have a favorite performance you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments below!