Sunday, November 8, 2009

new classical music concert - appealing to a wider audience

This week, I would like to respond to a concert review I read in the New York Times. Firstly, the title of the article, "Creative Confections for Woodwinds and Strings," grabbed my attention. Indeed, as I learned from the review, this concert aimed to attract their audience via a catchy title, or fun party-favors, and then presenting them with intriguing, new music. For instance, the title of the concert was, “m&m’s: microtones & minimalism," and, "concert-goers received "martini glasses filled with complimentary M&M candies." Also, as reviewed in the article, "Flyers and announcements hawked the “American Modern-tini,” a custom-made concoction." The logic behind attracting an audience with fun, rather than telling them the basic facts of what they were to hear on the concert is an interesting form of marketing. I could see some classical music critics finding this method too directed to mass-appeal, and questioning why they couldn't simply market the concert for what is was: contemporary classical music. However, I think the American Modern Ensemble, the group behind this performance, were wise to present their concert as more of a party than a contemporary music concert.

I attended a student recital last spring where a friend of mine served the reception before and during the performance, instead of after the concert. While this broke some boundaries in terms of the standard concert template, with the reception as a reward for sitting through the concert, I thought it was an ingenious way to insure the audience enjoyed themselves, and hopefully would spark more new classical music fans. I know everyone left that recital feeling excited that they had been a part of such a great performance, and a welcoming atmosphere. The idea behind the American Modern Ensemble's Party/Concert encourages the same warm feelings. Too often people view classical music concerts as only open to the select few, and that someone who has not been exposed to this genre before would not understand or even know how to listen to a concert. As we've discussed in our class, this is a shame, but sadly it has been the standard for years. By turning concerts into something more approachable, hopefully more new audience members will be attracted to attending. Also, the venue the Ensemble used for this concert, as described in the article: "Galapagos, a brut-chic performing-arts space where communal tables rest on metal platforms that jut out amid reflecting pools," was an exciting venue for classical music to be heard. It also continued their theme of breaking down the boundaries between genres of music.

The repertoire presented on the concert by the American Modern Ensemble span the years 1968-2007, and offered a wide range of instrumentation. This also helped in keeping the audience's interest, for if nothing else, they could enjoy watching the varied techniques suited to each instrument. I wish I could have attended this concert to get a feeling for how this presentation of new classical music was received. They had the right ingredients to make this concert as enjoyable as possible, so I hope new audience members agreed with enthusiasm and that they will attend future performances by this ensemble and other classical music groups.

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