You Must Be This Smart To Enjoy This Music

Show of hands, who’s guilty of telling someone who doesn’t attend concerts regularly one piece or another is “too much” for a new listener? I certainly used to be that way. As a product of early 90s conservatory programs, the whole “great art” thing was practically spliced into our DNA. Fortunately, not all the professors bought into that nonsense and the seeds they planted ultimately grew into waking up one day to realize that stuff was just a bunch of bunk.

Adaptistration People 180How often do you get caught up in that trap?

When you think about it, the right/wrong piece syndrome intersects so many areas for each stakeholder.

Managers who write marketing copy and program notes have a veritable mine field of places to make a wrong step. Musicians interacting with new listeners are automatically in a position of authority and hinting too much one way can cost a potential core audience member.

Holly Mulcahy published something on this very topic recently at Neo Classical. It goes beyond surface level rants to offer up some healthy insight.

Are seasoned classical music concert goers unwittingly segregating concerts they deem appropriate for their newcomer friends? It doesn’t help when orchestras themselves regurgitate the same statement that “We have to program Tchaikovsky or Beethoven because our audiences don’t know Britten, Rouse, Schoenberg.”

Really? Already prejudging, already apologizing for symphonic music. Here, try this concert, you will recognize this!….Just stop.

One of the reasons I like getting newer works out into the concert realm is because living composers (or recently living composers) are hearing the same noises society is experiencing. CNN blaring, email and text alerts, political noises, and fast paced global issues, are just examples.

It’s a good way to end your week on something positive and motivating.

Read “Do you need a prerequisite to enjoy classical music?” at Neo Classical

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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