I attended the Radius Ensemble concert, Dragons, this past Saturday night in Pickman Hall. I'm not going to talk about the program, but suffice to say, it was fantastic. What impressed me at the concert was the small number of Longy students in attendance. There were still many students there, but when I think of the number of students in our school, we could almost fill Pickman Hall ourselves. I would have really expected more students to be in attendance.
Maybe I'm being a bit unfair. I know many students work at night to support themselves or perform in their own right. But I have noticed this absence of students at concerts on other nights of the week as well.
I should explain why this perplexes me. I have always found that attending musical performances is crucial to my own musical development. In a concert, I am exposed to great literature, outstanding performance techniques, and generally inspired in my own endeavors. Not to mention, I am often starstruck and my spirits lifted. Many, if not most, of the concerts at Longy are also free. Except for work conflicts, it appears there is very little to prevent students from attending our concerts.
So what is keeping students from attending these valuable concerts?
In my own experience, part of the problem is the time. Many of our concerts don't begin until 8pm. Given the average length of two hours, our concerts end at the reasonable hour of 10pm. However, after a concert I have to rush to catch a subway train, get off at my stop, wait great lengths of time for a bus, and hope I get get home before midnight. With the sparse bus service on the weekends in particular, I always run the risk of missing the last bus for the evening and walking several miles home. It is worth mentioning that I do not live in the nicest part of Boston. Walking a few miles alone and late at night isn't the wisest choice. I know many students use public transport to get about, and that I am not the only person who faces this issue with the availability of public transport. Would more students be in attendance if our concerts started earlier, thereby making transportation less of an issue?
My final thought about this is naturally the impact of concert attendance on our musical future. If we as students won't attend concerts now, are we really dumb enough to expect people to attend our own concerts in return? We will one day be the educators and proprietors of music in this country and the world. If we don't demonstrate and appreciate the value of concerts now, do we really expect the next generation to do so as well? It is time for us to begin leading by example. If not, why are we studying music if we don't want to listen to it ourselves?
Now for my questions for Dean Chin.
1. Why doesn't Longy have stricter policies on concert attendance?
2. Why do our concerts begin at 8pm rather than 7pm, or 7:30pm?
3. Why doesn't Longy maintain a large, student vocal ensemble (choir, etc)? We have an orchestra and chamber groups, but there is no equivalent for the large number of vocalists at the school.