The Millennials’ Orchestra: Changing Styles of Engagement

“The Millennials’ Orchestra” series of blog posts are not meant to be opinion pieces, but rather founded in research, which I gathered and reported as part of my graduate Capstone project from 2012-2013. This is a personal blog and does not represent the views or opinions of my employer.


The Millennials’ Orchestra: Changing Styles of Engagement

The prominence and use of technology is one of the most distinguishing factors of the Millennial generation.101 Authors of the Pew Research Center’s comprehensive study Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, consider Millennials to be the first “always connected” generation.102 The increased use of social media and mobile Internet is readily apparent.103 Aaron Smith, author of the Pew Internet & American Life Project gadget survey, reveals in an interview with NPR that 96% of the Millennials in the U.S. own cellphones and are accessing information in different ways, even when compared to just a few years before.104

Carolyn Boiarsky, Journal of Popular Culture contributor, acknowledges the influence of technology on young adults, referring to those raised in the “Electronic Age” as the Nintendo or N-generation.105 The National Endowment for the Arts106 and Pew Research Center107 reveal the multimodal tendencies of the Millennial generation, reflecting their preference for more personalized and media-based creation, expression, and arts participation.108  Boiarsky also notes how members of the Millennial generation are more visually and kinesthetically oriented in a digital and electronic world.109 Westwater’s Symphonic Photochoreography110 may be one way to address such needs, enhancing the experience of symphony orchestra performance and engage Millennials through relevant technology. Symphonic photochoreography combines video projections with symphony orchestra performances to create a synchronized concert experience that incorporates classical music with dynamic, digital imagery.111  Pointing to the social nature of Millennials, Tamsen McMahon and Roger Sametz of MarketingProfs.com emphasize the need for marketing professionals to create, sustain, and evolve in the “Age of the Social.”112 It is important to note that much of this 21st century social interaction occurs online, and increasingly through the use of mobile technology.113

Regarding classical music engagement, audiences can be categorized in a variety of
ways. Henk Roose of Acta Sociologica categorizes classical music audiences based on aesthetic inclinations (or musical tastes), socio-demographics (social and demographic factors affecting status in society), motivations, and frequency of attendance. In this way, Roose recognizes three categories of classical music audiences: passers-by, interested participants, and inner circle.114 Alan Brown with Audience Insights LLC has idenCircles of Valuetified seven layers of value associated with attending live classical music performance by U.S. adults, including both intrinsic (artistic or educational; spiritual; healing/therapeutic) and extrinsic (ritual/ambiance; social interaction; relationship enhancement; occasion) values (pictured left).115 In addition to these considerations, Brown’s Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study examines how classical music consumers relate (or perceive their connection) to their local symphony orchestras.116

The National Endowment for the Arts released a new media report in 2010, discussing the influence of technology on arts participation and exploring the concept of Audience 2.0 – or the ways in which “Americans participate in the arts via electronic and digital media”117 In this report, the NEA examines participation among U.S. adults (18 to 75+ years old)118 in benchmark arts activities. “Benchmark arts activities include jazz, classical music, opera, musical plays, non-musical plays, ballet performances, and visual arts.”119 Respondents are divided into four participant segments based on their inclination, or disinclination, to engage in the arts through media, live performance, or both.120 Segments included those participating through both electronic media and live attendance; electronic media only; live attendance only; neither electronic media nor live attendance.121

Given the choice, how would you prefer to engage with your local symphony orchestra in the classical music concert experience?

*     *     *

101 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
102 Ibid.
103 National Public Radio,”Survey: 96 Percent of Young Adults Own Cellphones,” 2010,
published electronically, October 18, 2010. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130639028.
104 Ibid.
105 Carolyn Boiarsky, “This Is Not Our Fathers’ Generation: Web Pages, the Chicago Lyric
Opera, and the Philadelphia Orchestra,” Journal of Popular Culture, 36 (Summer 2002): 14-24.
106 Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard and Alan S. Brown, “Beyond Attendance: A Multi-Modal
Understanding of Arts Participation,” 104: National Endowment for the Arts, 2011.
107 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
108 Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard and Alan S. Brown, “Beyond Attendance.”
109 Ibid.
110 Dr. James Westwater and Nicholas Bardonnay, “Westwater Arts: Home,” http://westwaterarts.com/home.html.
111 Ibid.
112 Tamsen McMahon and Roger Sametz, “Create, Sustain, Evolve: Engaging Your Organization
to Keep Your Brand Healthy and Relevant,” In Marketing/Branding, http://www.sametz.com/news-and-articles/authored-articles/430-create-sustain-evolve.
113 Amanda Lenhart, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, and Kathryn Zickuhr, “Social Media &
Mobile Internet Use among Teens and Young Adults,” In Millennials: A Portrait of Generation
Next, Washington, D.C., 2010.
114 Henk Roose, “Many-Voiced or Unisono? An Inquiry into Motives for Attendance and
Aesthetic Dispositions of the Audience Attending Classical Concerts,” Acta Sociologica, 51, no.
3 (2008): 237-53.
115 Alan Brown Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study: How Americans Relate to Classical Music and Their Local Orchestras. Southport, (Connecticut: Audience Insight LLC, 2002), http://www.polyphonic.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2002_Classical_Music_Consumer_Report.pdf.
116 Ibid.

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.

*     *     *

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.”

The Millennial Alumni Research Project

Millennial Alumni

It’s hard to believe that I’m coming up on one year post-graduation from American University’s Arts Management program and the completion of my Capstone Project, ‘The Millennials’ Orchestra – Marketing and Development Strategies for Engaging Millennial Audiences and Donors in the U.S. Symphony Orchestra Classical Concert Experience.”  During the research process, my understanding of the Millennial generation as a whole and their inclinations to give was greatly enhanced by the studies and articles published by Achieve, Pew Research Center, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  I became a big fan of these Millennially-charged fact tanks, so you can imagine my nerdy delight when I found out my Alma mater was selected to partner with Achieve and the Chronicle of Philanthropy in the 2014 Millennial Alumni Research Project.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, in partnership with Achieve, will research the attitudes and engagement preferences of young alumni (Millennial generation graduates age 22-32). Through research surveys, focus groups, and user testing, institutions of higher education will have a better understanding of how alumni prefer to be involved and ways to connect and seek their support.

Flickr photo, ITU/Rowan Farrell

Flickr photo, ITU/Rowan Farrell

As a Millennial alum, I received an email asking me to participate in the survey.  I was excited to help out my school and contribute to the continued learning around the Millennial generation. Of course, I had to say yes!

I clicked on the link, taking me to the online survey.  In an appreciative and upbeat manner, the general purpose of the survey, as well as the length of time I could expect to devote to completing it, was explained upfront:

Thanks for agreeing to take the 2014 Higher Education Millennial Alumni Survey!  Your university is partnering with the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Achieve to understand the interests and preferences of Millennial alumni.  The survey will take approximately 10 minutes and we thank you for your time.

The survey began with a couple of simple, demographic questions, asking me to identify my gender and birth date (to verify that I fall into the Millennial age-range, I suspect).  Having completed the introduction, I was informed that the survey would be broken into three main components.  Compelled to know more, I continued with the survey.

As I completed one section and entered another, I received a clear message indicating the section/topic change.  I appreciated these mile-markers, not only for the reminder of the topics, but also for the structure of the survey.  Before we go any farther, however, you’re probably wondering what these mystery topics were all about…

  1. Alumni Attitudes
  2. Alumni Giving
  3. Alumni Involvement

As you might expect, I was asked a variety of questions about my interests, career development as it relates to my degree, giving preferences, and involvement with my Alma mater post-graduation, among others.  By the end of the survey, I was invited to participate in their on-going Millennial Involvement Focus Group and agreed.

It will be interesting to take part in this focus group over the next several months and exciting to read about the results of this research initiative.  We’ll have to stay tuned!

The research findings of the Young Alumni Engagement and Attitudinal Study will be released at MCON14 on June 18-19, 2014 in Chicago, IL.

MCON14

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.
_____________________________________________________________________

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

The Millennials’ Orchestra: From The Millennial’s Perspective

“The Millennials’ Orchestra” series of blog posts are not meant to be opinion pieces, but rather founded in research, which I gathered and reported as part of my graduate Capstone project from 2012-2013. This is a personal blog and does not represent the views or opinions of my employer.


The Millennials’ Orchestra: From The Millennial’s Perspective

Symphony orchestra concerts – Where are the Millennials?  Why aren’t they in our audiences?  What are they interested in and what would excite them to attend classical orchestra concerts?

So many orchestra managers have lost sleep over these types of questions – including myself.  As a Millennial and self proclaimed orchestra-lover, I knew there had to be others out there like me who love the art form, but perhaps they chose to participate in symphonic music in different ways than in the traditional sense of attending a concert… With these questions and more, I set out on a mission for answers.  From there, my graduate research survey was born.

Through this survey, I was able to gain valuable insight into the current public sentiment around classical music and symphony orchestra performance in the 21st century and across the U.S.[1]  The survey was distributed on social media networks  – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress – which may account for the lack of responses from the two oldest generations.[2] Within ten days, however, 110 people had voluntarily participated in the survey.[3] Out of those 110 respondents, 62 had identified themselves as Millennials.[4]  (Here’s where it gets really interesting!)

Millennials Speak Out:

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

    1. Approximately 60% of Millennial survey participants selected “lack of interest”[5] as their response. When answers such as, “all of the above” or “combination of expense and lack of interest” are also included, that figure increased by nearly three percentage points (to 62.9%).  Across all survey participants, however, “lack of interest” was clearly the outlier (45% selected this answer).[6]
    2. The second most prevalent answer among Millennials was “concert experience” (10 out of 62, or ~16%).[7]

Contrary to common belief, “expense” is not the biggest concern for Millennials when it comes to orchestra concerts.  Albeit it’s still an important and influential factor, only 6 out of 62, or ~9.7% of Millennial survey takers[8] selected this as their answer.  It appears that Millennials place greater value on relevance and appeal when making the decision to attend a symphony orchestra concert.

So where are the audiences? The young people?
Thought-Leaders Share Their Opinions:

Greg Sandow, author of The Future of Classical Music ArtsJournal blog, believes that the concert experience is at the heart of the lack of Millennials in attendance at classical symphony orchestra concerts.[9]  Other limiting factors face U.S. symphony orchestras. With increasing reliance on social and handheld technology in our modern society, Engaging Art contributing authors highlight how the interests and expectations of contemporary audiences have changed, as well as the nature of arts participation.[10] Dan Laughey, author of Music & Youth Culture, emphasizes the connection of “youth culture” [11] to the energetic, social atmosphere of music clubs and other pop culture environments.[12]  Mark Shugoll, of Shugoll Research outside of Washington, D.C., suggests that aligning program offerings with such inclinations can help arts organizations become more relevant and appealing to the elusive Millennial generation patrons.[13]

What do you think, readers?: 

What is the key to symphony orchestra appeal in the eyes of our Millennial populations?

What do you think it will take for symphony orchestras in the U.S. to inspire recurring attendance among these coveted audiences?


[1] Catherine Starek, “Graduate Research Survey 2013 – Classical Music and Symphony Orchestra Performance,” Google Form, 2013.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Greg Sandow, (ArtsJournal blogger), interview by Catherine Starek.
[10] Steven Tepper and Bill Ivey, 2008, Engaging Art.
[11] Dan Laughey, Music & Youth Culture, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 2006.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Mark Shugoll, “BSO’s Symphony with a Twist,” interview by Catherine Starek, 2013.

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!

Oscar Host and Music Man Made Entertainment History at 24

Among the many descriptors of Millennials – America’s newest generation, the teens and twenty-somethings coming into adulthood – this generation is known to be confident, connected, and open to change. Oscar Host and member of Gen x Seth MacFarlane helped set the stage for the empowered Millennial generation, making entertainment history at the young age of 24.

I turn to the following ABC news article to shed light on a this young, “Music is Better Than Words” kind of guy.

Selections from:
Oscar Host Seth MacFarlane: 7 Things to Know
By Luchina Fisher – Feb. 22, 2013
ABC News
‘Family Guy’ Creator Seth MacFarlane Will Host Sunday’s Academy Awards

Bob D’Amico/ABC

(ABC has) made a list of seven things you should know about Seth MacFarlane ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards…

1. He’s a Prodigy

“I was a combination of reclusive and obsessed with what I wanted to do,” MacFarlane told Walters after being chosen as one of her “10 Most Fascinating People” of 2012. “When I was 2, I was sitting in front of the TV set drawing Fred Flintstone and Woody Woodpecker.” Raised in Kent, Conn., the son of ex-hippies-turned-teachers, MacFarlane started doing a comic strip for his local paper at age 9. In seventh grade, he made his first animated cartoon, “Space Pirates” — “It was terrible,” he said. Later, at the Rhode Island School of Design, he performed in student films and made some of his own, including the animated “The Life of Larry,” which became the seed for “Family Guy.”

2. He Made History

At age 24, MacFarlane made history as the youngest person to ever head a network show as the mastermind of “Family Guy.” MacFarlane produces, writes and even oversees the music for the show. He also voices four of the characters, including 11-month-old Stewie Griffin, his blue-collar dad Peter Griffin and their dog Brian. The show is equal parts juvenile, profane and warm-hearted, tackling everything from bestiality to flatulence. MacFarlane told Walters the trick to getting his material past the censors is to not offend too many groups in any one episode. “It all can’t be in the same place,” he said. “There’s something called tonnage. We try to keep those jokes spread apart. It is a balance. But my view is, if it makes you laugh, it’s an honest laugh.”

3. He Narrowly Escaped Death on 9/11

MacFarlane had been scheduled to fly on the doomed American Airlines flight from Boston that was hijacked by terrorists and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Instead, he arrived late at the airport — after partying hard the night before and getting the departure time wrong — and missed the flight. “I was generally late for flights,” MacFarlane told Piers Morgan in 2011. “In that moment, we’re all the same. I’m not a fatalist. I was not shaken to the core.” Ironically, MacFarlane’s “Ted” co-star Mark Wahlberg had also been scheduled for Flight 11 but canceled his ticket at the last minute.

4. He’s a (Frugal) Millionaire

MacFarlane is said to be worth $30 million, and the “Family Guy” franchise, which includes “The Cleveland Show” and “American Dad,” is valued over $2 billion, but the comedian says he does not make a lot of “frivolous purchases.” “The only thing in the past 10 years that could be considered extravagant is I bought a time share in a plane,” he told Walters. “It’s nice to be able to avoid the airports, but that’s about it.” Asked why he didn’t buy the entire plane, he quipped, “Oh Lord no, I’m not Bill Gates.”

5. His First Film Was a Smash

MacFarlane only recently joined the ranks of Hollywood, when he wrote and directed his first film. “Ted,” released last summer with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis — and MacFarlane as the voice of the profane teddy bear, Ted — is the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. In addition to hosting Sunday, MacFarlane has a chance at winning an Oscar. He received a nomination for the movie’s theme song, which he co-wrote and Norah Jones sings in the film. Jones is also scheduled to perform for Sunday’s telecast. He told “GMA” that he was “genuinely excited” about the nomination, but added, “I know we’re going to lose to Adele … .”

6. He’s a Song and (Not Quite) Dance Man

You’ve probably figured out by now that MacFarlane is a musical man. In September 2011, he released an album of American standards called “Music is Better Than Words.” So, yes, he’s planning to sing at the Oscars. “You’ve got a 60-piece orchestra there. It’s just too big a temptation not to use,” he told Walters. And though he’s admitted he’s no dancer, you can expect to see him bust a move. The show’s producers announced Thursday that MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth will close the show Sunday with a musical performance. “We think it will be a ‘can’t miss’ moment,” the show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said in a statement.

7. He’s Not Afraid of Little Controversy

The big question is how far will MacFarlane go? Will he go as far as Ricky Gervais at the 2011 Golden Globes? MacFarlane has already shown he’s not afraid of a little controversy. During Emmy voting in 2012, his mailer to voters for “Family Guy” included the phrase “Come on, you bloated, over-privileged Brentwood Jews. Let us into your little club.” As expected, controversy erupted, with MacFarlane telling E! News, “Hollywood is a town of very well-to-do folks who live very comfortably. They have a very comfortable lifestyle, they do what they love, there’s not much that is bad in their life. So they should be able to laugh at themselves. If they can’t, it’s a rather sad thing.” Let’s see if he makes them laugh (tonight).

Millennial Takeover: The Future of Nonprofits

Here’s a brief, entertaining view into the Millennial generation and future of nonprofits.


“Here’s to hoping the future of nonprofits looks as fun as this.”
mobilizedotcom

Then and Now: Millennial Lessons from a Performing Arts Veteran – the Smithsonian Impresario

In a recent event hosted by the Smithsonian Associates, I was given a glimpse into the changing landscape and historic events of the performing arts in DC.  It was the first day of November and I had the opportunity to hear from a veteran of the field, the acclaimed Smithsonian Impresario, Mr. James Morris – although he seemed to prefer to go by “Jim”.  The event was moderated by Dwight Bower, the curator of entertainment history at the National Museum of American History.  I was one of the few Millennials in the audience, but I was eager to learn and to get involved.  Scribbling furiously on my steno notepad, I tried to capture the evolution of topics and statements made during Mr. Morris’ discussion.  I will do my best to accurately reconstruct the memories and experiences shared at this event.

Jim began by reflecting on his life and work in the performing arts.  He highlighted some of the many roles he has had in and around the arts, ranging from politics, to theatre, music, and television.  Although he initially built his career as a performer in entertainment and the arts, after a while – and with the addition of his wife and a three-year-old child at the time – he decided to apply his creative energies to a more administrative role.  Bowers addressed this transitional stage, asking Jim to describe how he first got involved with the Smithsonian Institution.

He was referred to Secretary S. Dillon Ripley through a connection made at a trade fair.  He contacted Sec. Ripley by phone to discuss his interest in developing the performing arts at the Smithsonian and was invited for a job interview shortly after.  Jim met Sec. Ripley at the Smithsonian Castle, but much to his surprise, the interview ended up taking place in Sec. “Ripley’s automobile” — after all, Sec. Ripley was a busy man and needed to get things done.  Jim was disarmed by the conversational tone of the interview that unfolded.  In fact, it turned out that it was hardly an intense interview at all, it felt more like “chit chat.”  Not knowing what to make of his interaction with Sec. Ripley, Jim left uncertain of his chances.  Later that evening, the phone rang at his home.  It was Sec. Ripley and he was offering him the job.  Jim was hired as director of Museum Services in 1966 and appointed to director of the Smithsonian’s new Division of Performing Arts in the following year.

The decision to hire a director of Museum Services was not one that was warmly received among the other curators at the Smithsonian. Jim somewhat jokingly recalled, “I felt like a wild animal that had been set loose in their environment.”  Eventually, a member of the board stuck up for him and said, “Management hired him to enhance what we do here,” encouraging others to let him do what he was hired to do.  His impact on the Smithsonian Institution from that point forward was truly revolutionary. As the new Director of the Division of Performing Arts, he got involved in and accomplished many things at the Smithsonian. He became the founder of the highly anticipated, annual Folklife Festival, helped initiate the American College Theater Festival with Kennedy Center’s Dept of Education (with hopes of linking it to the Smithsonian), and established the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings, among other notable achievements.

He was particularly interested in regional, or state, culture.  “Bit by bit” the Folklife Festival came together, making its official debut in 1967.  The festival went for four days and drew what turned out to be the most attended event in Smithsonian history to date.  Despite the prevalence of “high art” in America, Jim took interest in “popular culture,” which was the “orphan of the cultural world” at the time.  After a while, he said, “people came to realize the importance of pop music, musical theatre, etc. in tradition.”

He vehemently pursued his interest in jazz, working to incorporate this truly American genre into the musical and educational offerings of the Smithsonian.  His desire to include a genre of music dominated by African-American artists, however, was faced with great resistance – during a time when racial tensions remained high in America – but he never backed down.  Jim eventually decided that he needed to create a product and a plan.  Jim raised money for the project himself and came to his supervisors with a plan.  The project was reluctantly approved, allowing only 500 recordings of jazz to be made.  Public response was enormous, proving to be a tremendously popular endeavor.  Jim had packaged the orders by hand at first, but the level of sophistication in operations grew to accommodate the demand for the “milestone Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz of 1973.”

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Millennials are experiencing a great deal of change due to the evolution of technology and influence of a rather volatile economy.  Job seekers in the 21st century can no longer wait to be approached by someone with a job, we must show our passion, enthusiasm, and desire, just as Jim did and continued to do throughout his career.  Technology can and should be used strategically in the arts, allowing arts managers and artists to better demonstrate the value of their work, to build connections, and realize the impact of the arts on the well-being of the community.

I highlight the nature the Millennial generation in recent posts, as well as their apparent role in nonprofit fundraising for the arts. The TweetChat #MillennialDonorsAU revealed these compelling themes – Millennials are eager and underrepresented.  Millennials are having an impact and it would be unfortunate and unwise for nonprofits to ignore the creative, technological, enthusiastic energies of this empowered generation.

You may be wondering, what does the Smithsonian Impresario have to do with Millennials?

As an emerging arts leader and Millennial in DC, I am inspired by the Smithsonian Impresario’s emphasis on cultural inclusion, sense of enthusiasm, and passion for the arts. What are the barriers to Millennial involvement in the arts, not only as donors, but also as audience members and employees?  How can nonprofit organizations take advantage of this enthusiastic generation, clearly eager to get involved and make a difference in others’ lives?  Many arts organizations are faced with aging and declining audiences, affecting their ability to navigate confidently in a difficult economy (symphony orchestras appear to be ubiquitous in this respect, evidenced by the musician strikes, contract negotiations, and leadership resignations littering arts & culture headlines across the country and abroad). How can we begin to shift our mindset and adapt to the demands of society?

In order to make change in the 21st century, I think it is important that we reflect on the past to inform our futures and also work to adjust to and incorporate what is currently going on around us.  Tap into your inner impresario – be creative, be willing to adapt, and always pursue your life’s work with passion!

*You can grab a copy of his new book for all the amazing stories and wisdom of the Smithsonian Impresario.

A Memoire by James Morris