The Millennials’ Orchestra: Competing for Attention

“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: Competing for Attention

Orchestras and New Media, a report by arts marketer Marc van Bree, discusses the rapid
evolution of technology in contemporary society and the implications for Millennial engagement with symphony orchestras.122 From company brands and magazines to radio, TV, and websites, 21st century populations are exposed to a great complexity media with ever-increasing frequency.123 Contrary to the idea that Millennials are using and communicating through technology in place of one-on-one interaction, instead Millennials use technology and new media channels to enhance their social experiences.124 Social media networks are inherently interactive and can become powerful marketing and engagement tools for attracting this “always connected generation”125 to the work of symphony orchestras.126 As the graph illustrates below, the likelihood of online engagement with Millennial audiences is considerably greater when compared to audiences from older age cohorts.127

Audience Insight LLC, Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study:

Audience Insight - Electronic Media by Age CohortNote: The electronic media measurement of participation in those activities includes all dance, and not just ballet. Visual arts participation includes those who either observed programs about artworks, artists, or museums through electronic media and/or who viewed artworks online.128

122 Marc van Bree, “Orchestras and New Media: A Complete Guide,” 56, 2009.
123 Ibid.
124 Ibid.
125 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
126 Ibid.
127 Alan Brown (Project Director), “Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study.”
128 Ibid.

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With so much competition for our attention with mobile devices, social media, and online entertainment and information, orchestras are smartly starting to incorporate these tools and channels into the way they communicate and engage with their audiences.  As a continuation of this discussion, my next blog post will focus on inter-connectivity of Millennials through technology and new media channels and how some nonprofit arts organizations, orchestras included, are integrating these modes of communication and interaction into their practices and performances.

Have you interacted with an orchestra that encouraged the use of mobile apps or social media?  What was your experience?

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 – Part 2

Millennial Classical Musicians: Part 2

This is the second installment in a 4-part series that takes a close look at how Millennials are shaping the future of classical music.

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Part one of my four-part series on Millennial classical musicians placed the spotlight on a couple of young and talented virtuosos, who are also inspiring examples of the characteristic charitable nature of the Millennial generation as a whole.  In the second part of this series, I would like to turn your attention to another brilliant duo, pioneering and shaping the new world of classical music.  This journey begins with the Millennial violist, Nadia Sirota.

NADIA SIROTA – The Urban Violist

Nadia Sirota is 30 years old and on the cutting edge of classical music.  Coming from a family of musicians, she was exposed to classical music and began studying on stringed instruments at a young age.  With an older, violinist brother to compare with, Nadia has always had a strong competitive drive.  They both started on the violin and then switched to the viola in their early teens.  The viola was, in her opinion, way cooler than the violin.  Since the switch, she has done a lot to reinforce this perception among audiences far and wide.  Nadia took to the viola with a fiery passion and never looked back.

For generations, the violin (not the viola) has been considered the rock-star of orchestral instruments.  Although the viola belongs to the violin family, it’s quite a bit larger and tuned lower than the violin.  The violin’s higher and more brilliant tone is often more desirable for orchestral showcases, such as violin concertos and other virtuosic works (i.e. music requiring great artistic skill).  Forced to take the equivalent of the backup-singer role, the larger and deeper sounding viola is often taken for granted and made the butt of musical jokes.  Nadia is changing this unflattering stereotype for the better, proving to the world that the viola is unique and well worth our undivided attention.  Check out her latest album to hear just how amazing the viola and this Millennial classical musician can be!

Nadia has not only been a champion for the viola, she has made it her mission to showcase and promote contemporary classical music.  Her newest album, Baroque, was selected as Q2 Music’s Album of the Week in late March of this year.

The corresponding article, “Violist Nadia Sirota Puts the ‘Rock’ in ‘Baroque,’” points to the edgy, new age character of her classical viola sound:

The injection of the spirit of the 17th and 18th centuries into a recording that is otherwise entrenched in the 21st century is what makes Sirota’s “Baroque” sound otherworldly, bold and new.

Interestingly, Nadia discovered her passion for contemporary classical music only after she graduated from Julliard with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in viola performance.  Friend and colleague, Nico Muhly, had written a 14-min. viola sonata for Nadia called Keep in Touch.  She performed the piece at the 2006 Airwaves Festival in Reykjavík, Iceland, in rather unusual circumstances – “…in a hot, smokey venue in front of hundreds of whisky-soaked standing spectators.”  She had the audience on the edges of their seats and was pleased with the acceptance and appreciation they showed for the viola and concert music outside of the concert hall.  This experience changed Nadia’s approach to classical music altogether.  From that point on, contemporary classical music became her brand and career.

To her credit, Nadia’s accomplishments are already numerous.  In addition to being a solo violist, she performs as a member of yMusic, ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), and Alarm Will Sound.  She also hosts a show on WQXR’s New Music radio stream.  Here are some of her outstanding achievements:

New Music Initiatives:

  • Co-founder of Julliard’s AXIOM ensemble
  • Initiated the New Music Project with the Castleman/Amory/Huang studio
  • Created the Julliard Plays Julliard program for student composers and performers

Recognition & Awards:

  • Winner of Julliard’s concerto competition (2005)
  • Joined the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music (Fall 2007) – New masters degree program in contemporary music
  • Debut album, First Things First (2009) – Record of the year by The New York Times
  • ASCAP Deems Taylor Award (2010) – Radio and Internet Broadcasting
  • Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Prize (2013) – Pioneering artist with emerging international profile

This trailblazing violist is breaking the mold of classical music performance with her expressive urban sound.  Her entrepreneurial style, combined with new age classical music, is opening doors for herself as a musician, contemporary audiences, and emerging professional musicians and composers all over the world.  Her job is one of translation – conveying the ideas of talented young composers and providing exciting experiences for classical music connoisseurs and newcomers alike in the 21st century.


Nadia Sirota
(Photo Credit: Samantha West)

Age: 30
Nationality: American

Claim to Fame: Violist; New Classical Music & Contemporary Performance

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nadiasirota
Facebook: https://facebook.com/nadiasirotamusic
Website: www.nadiasirota.com

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GUSTAVO DUDAMEL – “the dude” Dudamel

In the effort to provide a well-rounded overview of Millennial classical musicians, I turn now to the conductor’s stand and, more specifically, the music director of the LA Philharmonic – Maestro Gustavo Dudamel.

If Gustavo’s warm smile and long curly locks haven’t already caught your eye, his incredible energy and skill as a conductor certainly will.  Gustavo Dudamel, aka “the dude” Dudamel, is a vivacious, 32-year-old orchestra conductor who has brought fame and fortune to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  His larger-than-life attitude is a perfect fit with the LA Phil’s home venue- the unparalleled Disney Hall.  This magnificent hall and the talented music director who brings the space to life with music are astounding and unique in so many ways.  Let’s go back to the beginning…

Welcome to Venezuela, Gustavo’s native country.  Despite increasing poverty and dangerous crime, residents harbor an unrelenting passion for life and sense of positivity.  A major catalyst of this aptitude for survival, it seems, is a revolutionary music education system known as El Sistema. The website for El Sistema Venezuela explains:

El Sistema is a tested model of how a music program can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s neediest kids… Its approach to music education emphasizes intensive ensemble participation from the earliest stages, group learning, peer teaching and a commitment to keeping the joy and fun of musical learning and music making ever-present.

Gustavo is a tremendous advocate for El Sistema and representative of the benefits that come from the program.  As an El Sistema Venezuela graduate, he has since become an internationally renowned musician, composer, and conductor.

Gustavo Dudamel signed as an exclusive artist of Deutsche Grammophon in 2005.  Now in his fifth season at the LA Phil, and fifteenth season as Music Director for the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, he continues to widen the depth, breadth, and diversity of classical music programming, audiences reached, and children served.  He is a true musical leader who knows no bounds.

Additional Achievements

  • Inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition winner (2004)
  • Grammy winning artist with numerous recordings
  •  ‘Q Prize’ from Harvard University – Extraordinary service to children
  • l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres induction – Chevalier, in Paris (2009)
  • Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people (1990)
  • Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT (2010)
  • Voted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame
  • Gramophone Artist of the Year (2011)
  • Royal Swedish Academy of Music induction – ‘Eminent merits in the musical art’
  • Honorable doctorates – Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado in his hometown, Barquisimeto; University of Gothenburg
  • Musical America’s Musician of the Year (2013)

Notable Appearances (TV/Movie):

  • The Inaugural Concert – First concert as Music Dir. at the LA Phil (2009)
  • New Year’s Eve Concert Gala 2011 – Berlin Philharmonic
  • Birthday Concert for Pope Benedict XVI
  • Let the Children Play – Documentary (2011)
  • Dudamel: Conducting a Life (2010) – PBS special with Tavis Smiley
  • Sesame Street with Elmo (Feb 2012)

Gustavo Dudamel’s musical career began on the violin, transitioned to the baton as a conductor in Venezuela, and now he continues to help under-served youth through music and The Dudamel Foundation, which he founded with his wife in 2012.  His interests and actions demonstrate unwavering dedication to advancing music education and social justice for people across the globe.  I can only hope to be half as accomplished by the time I reach my early thirties!

Gustavo Dudamel
Age: 32
Nationality: Venezuelan

Claim to Fame: El Sistema Venezuela; Violinist/Composer/Conductor; Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, LA Philharmonic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#GustavoDudamel
Facebook: https://facebook.com/GDudamel
Website: www.gustavodudamel.com

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Nadia Sirota and Gustavo Dudamel are two, very different Millennial classical musicians, but they align on the international stage as performing artists trying to make a positive difference in the world through the amazing power of music.

Join me soon for Part 3 of this series, where I will explore the backgrounds and accomplishments of an extraordinarily hip pianist and a tremendous violinist with a rather quirky sense of humor.

Originally Published July 31, 2013 – http://genyhub.com/page/performance-art#ixzz2groIHdzl

From the Top: Puppy Edition

From the Top is considered to be one of the most popular classical music programs on radio.  Hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley, it celebrates the dazzling performances and engaging stories of extraordinary young classical musicians.

Here’s to emerging arts leaders and having fun and expressing yourself through music! 😀

Celebrating Amateurs and Professionals – BSO’s Rusty Musicians, Nov 2012

“For one brief but action-packed evening, amateur musicians are invited to join members of the BSO on stage to rehearse and perform predetermined repertoire led by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop.”

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world’s most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the Baltimore Symphony has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout the Maryland community.

See more about the program and registration at Baltimore Symphony Orchestra – Rusty Musicians.

Uploaded by on Feb 4, 2010 – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra invited local rusty musicians to perform with them onstage at the Music Center at Strathmore on February 2 and 4. More than 400 answered the call. Divided into four sessions each night, BSO musicians and Rusty musicians rehearsed and performed together with Music Director Marin Alsop in Elgar’s Enigma Variations (Nimrod) and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony (Movement Four). Co-presented by The Music Center at Strathmore.

Who says classical music is dead?

I was curious about how many people were thinking and talking about classical music online, so I did a search for the term using a new tool that I discovered on #Twitter.  As of 8 o’clock (EDT) this morning, the Twitter hashtag #classicalmusic had made roughly 70,000 impressions, reaching more than 47,000 followers within the past 24 hours.  (Click on the links for definitions or to learn more.)

As I gear up for my master’s capstone project, I find myself increasingly interested in learning how people perceive and value classical music (especially within the symphony orchestra setting).  I would love to hear your stories!

  • Do you think Classical music is dead?
  • What would you change about symphony orchestras, symphony concerts, and/or the symphony experience?
  • Is there a classical music performance that was particularly memorable for that you would like to share?