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.”

The Musician’s Breakup (A Short Film)

In honor of the unmistakable bond between musician and instrument, please enjoy this slightly awkward, yet entertaining short film featuring the breakup of cellist Nicholas Canellakis and his old lady – his cello.  Thank you, , for bringing this to my attention!

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.

“Useful Dog Tricks” by Jesse the Jack – Dedicated to Service Dogs Everywhere (VIDEO)

Sit back and enjoy the sprightly, enthusiastic, thoughtful, and talented tail-wagging fun. (All taught with positive reinforcement and relationship-based training!) 😀

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!

Metro Musicals: Getting Creative with Urban Sounds (VIDEO)

Land-fillharmonic:
Young musicians in Paraguay, South America make beautiful music with a collection of unconventional instruments.  Colá, a local professor, transforms aluminum and other discarded materials into respectable, recycled symphony orchestra instruments.  The idea for this magnificent initiative comes from Maestro Szarán.  The orchestra’s educational offerings have expanded to include this innovative instrument building program, ultimately improving the emotional and intellectual well-being of these young musicians and overall cleanliness of the community.


Metro Sounds:
Another example of urban musical creativity comes from the mechanical clatter emitted by the DC Metro.

Listen to the escalator engines’ meditative rhythm, cool and even like a sleeping drum machine. Listen to the impatient patter of human footsteps quietly rebelling against the escalator’s master tempo.

Even if Metro ever gets all of its escalators running this smoothly, they’ll never lose their secret music. We’ll only have to listen more carefully.

Can you remix the Metro?
The Washington Post’s Pop Music Blog – Click Track – challenged readers to remix the sounds of the Metro’s aging escalators in Washington, DC.

The Accidental Music of Imperfect Escalators on SoundCloud captures the unique musical experience:

Chris Richards is a music critic for the Washington Post, and after years of ignoring the wailing and screeching of the much maligned, often broken escalators in the DC Metro, he began to hear them in a new way. He began to hear them as music.


Share your urban music experiences:
What and where are urban sounds creating music in your community?
What other examples or ideas would you like to recommend or explore?

I look forward to hearing your stories.  Please share your comments below!

Sugar Plum Fairy – A Symphony of Glass

 Enjoy the glass duo‘s musical performance of Russian classical composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky‘s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker Suite.

Merry Christmas!
BSONutcracker

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! 😀

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

Symphony orchestras going mobile? App-solutely!

With the use of mobile apps on the rise, I was curious to see how many symphony orchestras have embraced the trend.

Orchestra apps are making it easier for fans to follow the latest news, find event information, buy tickets, make donations, listen to music samples, watch videos, learn about conductors and musicians, access driving and parking information, and more…all on their mobile devices.

There were a few orchestras that I expected to find, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony.  There were several that I was pleasantly surprised to see!  Although I am rather impressed by the number of symphony orchestra apps already available, I feel there is great potential for this list, as well as patron engagement, to grow.

Which symphony orchestras did I find in the rapidly expanding mobile app-mosphere?

New finds!

Classical Music Apps:
WQXR – New York’s Classical Music Radio Station – released the Top 5 Classical Music Apps (top 5 @ 105) in 2011, including:

  1. Bachtrack – search by composer, work, choreographer, performer, country, city, venue or any combination of these.
  2. Boston Symphony Orchestra – BSO Media Center: WebTV provides virtual concert-going experience (Press release)
  3. Medici.tv – subscribe, rent films, and watch live webcasts
  4. iGendyn – entertaining sound synthesis app
  5. Mahler Translation – Nearly 2300 English translations of German musical words and phrases found in Gustav Mahler’s symphonic works.

You may find other WQXR Top 5 lists from 2012 that interest you:

I want to hear from you! (@CStarek; www.mezzaphonicallyspeaking.wordpress.com; Google+)

  1. Would you consider downloading your local orchestra’s mobile app?
  2. What are your initial reactions to this service?
  3. What are your thoughts for the future of symphony orchestra engagement?