TAFTO 2013 Contribution: Holly Mulcahy

Sometimes you just want to be told what to do. It isn’t that you’re lazy or averse to initiative but having a read to use idea can be the difference between thinking “I should do that” and actually getting it done. If that’s the way you’re feeling the Holly Mulcahy’s  contribution is precisely what you’ve been looking for. ~Drew McManus

Six Fail-Safe Ways to Get Your Concert On

By: Holly Mulcahy; violinist and author of Neo Classical, a blog about the future of classical music.

TAFTO Banner 2013 Holly MulcahyDuring this season I’ve enjoyed the honor of playing in several orchestras as guest concertmaster and one of the more enjoyable fringe benefits is a direct view of and/or direct contact with the patrons. There was a wide variety; everything from parents with children, groups of teenagers, date nights, and family nights to dinner clubs and drag queens.

But one thread that made its way from one group to the next was sharing the experience; and for my money, that adds instant value to any outing. If that weren’t enough, introducing friends to a night at the symphony is one of the greatest cultural keys one can hand over to another.

But asking a friend to a symphony can be a hard sell sometimes. Stereotypes abound but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from making them work to your advantage when possible. So, here is a sampling of a few ideas from my observations this season to create a group outing that will surely create a meaningful, enjoyable, and crazy-fun night at the symphony.

  1. Blind Date: One orchestra I worked with this year had a Sunday concert blind date idea. The conductor acknowledged the 10 couples in attendance, and the audience around them applauded, welcomingly. You know what’s awesome about a blind date at a symphony concert? You don’t have to say much, if anything at all! That awkward quiet over the typical coffee date is replaced by wonderful musical phrases and transcendental moments.
    Bonus! After the concert you already have something in common and if you want to move on to coffee, you can discuss the concert.
  2. Family Reunion: It was hard to miss the giant family sitting in the front row of one of my concerts since they were all wearing the same color sweaters. At intermission I asked about this, and it turned out that “Grandma wouldn’t stop talking about the symphony she went to as a kid, and we decided to surprise her with a night out. Dinner, symphony concert, and no drama! And now our kids will likely remember this night and repeat one day when they are Grammy’s age.”
    Bonus! No family drama and some awesome memories.
  3. Teenagers in Tiaras: There are some really awesome teens out there with some amazing personalities. I ran into a large group of delightfully dressed teens while headed toward a concert hall and asked if there was a dance that evening. No, they were headed to see the symphony. Perhaps they were a bit overdressed for this decade but with the popularity of Downton Abbey and other period shows, these girls felt compelled to don their gowns and be ladies going to the symphony.
    Bonus! Teens behaving like socialites is way more awesome than teens acting like Kim Kardashian.
  4. Drag Queens in Tiaras: Even more awesome. I didn’t get to talk to these lovely ladies but I could see it was definitely their thing to do. It looked like a big group of friends who wanted to have an evening on the town. I suppose the strange looks other patrons gave them was quickly brushed aside as the music started. In my opinion, who cares! They were clearly having fun and getting the most out of their night on the town.
    Bonus! A little extra dazzle in any concert hall is refreshing.
  5. Foodies Pre-concert Hang: I met a group of symphony goers in one town that regularly had a gathering of fine wine and fine food before each masterwork concert. This popular event started with just a few couples but quickly grew and before long, the little get-togethers encouraged their friends to want in on the fun. Parties would be hosted at various houses before the concerts and they would all drive over together.
    Bonus! A ready-made, awesome party every month or so, guaranteed.
  6. Cocktail Post-Concert Hang: One orchestra I worked with had a bar attached to the symphony hall. It was amazing to see how word spread that you could meet musicians, conductor, soloists, and friends after a concert. And it was easy to see how effortlessly people mingled and introduced themselves, discussed the concert, and asked questions about the next concert event.
    Bonus! Meeting new people to discuss old music over mixed drinks is a great way to make new friends.

Those were just a few, but really there are so many themes and fun ways to share a symphony concert. The best part seems to be the memories created. Not only are people spreading the joy of classical music, but they are enhancing and improving on an already fun occasion. What else would you add to this list? Leave a comment and share!

About Holly Mulcahy

After hearing Scheherazade in an elementary school general music class, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. Since then, she has won a variety of tenured positions in symphonic orchestras from Richmond to Phoenix and has performed on a variety of domestic and international tours including the Washington National Opera Japan tour under the leadership of Placido Domingo and the 2012 Carnegie Hall appearance with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Ms. Mulcahy has performed in the Grand Teton Music Festival since 2003.

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