Free = Good. Free + Big Screens = Better.

From out of the gloomy mist that has characterized business news the past few weeks, a bright and shiny silver lining is threading its way across several cities this weekend in the form of free simulcast concerts. For the past few years, operas have dominated this niche but this season, the Nashville Symphony jumps on the bandwagon with their opening night concert on 09/11/2009 featuring pianist Lang Lang and the debut of new music director, Giancarlo Guerrero…

At a time when budgets are tight, free world class talent and giant screens are a good combination.
At a time when family budgets are tight, free world class talent and big screens are a good combination.

Regular readers likely remember the comprehensive series of articles highlighting the Nashville Symphony Orchestra’s (NSO) new home, Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The organization is making good use of their plaza space by setting up chairs and broadcasting the entire concert free of charge via a large outdoor LED screen display system. What’s more, the organization hired Nashville-based TV producer/director Robert Swope to direct the show via multiple cameras from inside the concert hall. In addition to the free simulcast, the NSO is producing a live, pre-concert streaming video webcast which will be available at the orchestra’s website.

In Washington D.C., the Washington National Opera (WNO) is offering a free, live simulcast of the opening night performance of The Barber of Seville on 09/12/2009 at Nationals Park. As a special pre-concert treat, WNO is screening Warner Brother’s classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, The Rabbit of Seville.

On the other side of the country, the San Francisco Opera is providing a free, live simulcast of their 09/19/2009 performance of Verdi’s Il Trovatore at the San Francisco Giant’s AT&T Park. It is nice to see some performing arts organizations partner with local sports venues to put on free concerts.

I’m sure that I’ve likely missed someone in this review o if your orchestra/opera is planning a free simulcast concert event this weekend or soon thereafter, let everyone know by submitting a comment.

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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