Grant Park Take A Friend Concert Review

The second of the Grant Park Music Festival’s Take a Friend to the Orchestra concerts went over wonderfully. The weather simply couldn’t have been better and just like Wednesday evening’s concert, the park was filled to capacity (12,000) with a few thousand more spilling over to the walkways and adjacent grassy areas. This performance featured a pre-concert CoffeeTalk discussion that had close to 200 in attendance who listened to festival’s Artistic and General Director James Palermo (2007 TAFTO contributor), music director Carlos Kalamar (2008 TAFTO contributor), and me discuss the concert, the ideals behind the “Take a Friend” concept, and answer patron’s questions.

Who said there was no audience for classical music?
Who said there was no audience for classical music?

After the CoffeeTalk session and just before the concert started, it was enormously gratifying to run into several friends and colleagues who staked a claim on the lawn seats along with their friends who were new to orchestra concerts. And even though they are normally very busy immediately before a concert, there were even several Grant Park Orchestra musicians who were socializing with friends they invited to the concert event. All in all, it was a picture perfect evening and if you’ve ever wondered what 12,000 people watching an orchestra concert looks like, check out the photo to your left (although it still doesn’t really capture the enormity of the crowd). You can find more pictures from the CoffeTalk and concert below.

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About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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