Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

10 things that we should change in classical music concerts

Amongst the closing of many orchestras and lock outs, Swiss conductor Baldur Bronnimann writes a blog post about what he believes are the ways to catch the new, young audiences of orchestras around the world. As we move forward into the 21st century, the arts must become progressive and participatory. As arts managers, it is important to become innovative in our fields so that we keep up with the trends of the culture. We should consider the things listed as breaking the “barriers of entry” for those who may not be familiar with attending orchestra concerts.

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4 comments on “10 things that we should change in classical music concerts

  1. awellfare89
    October 22, 2014

    It does make me sad that something so near is seen as out-of-touch (OK, it is in many situations but that’s changing). Classical music is so much more interesting if everyone in the audience knew more about onstage work such as the political, social, and emotional factors that impacted its creation – let’s be honest, not everyone reads the program notes. I love a good NAXOS podcast.

    One of Bronnimann’s suggestions is hard for me to swallow. Clapping in between movements DRIVES ME CRAZY because it disrupts the work!! Listening to a beautiful sombre movement of a symphony and having it interrupted by applause kills the moment. It’s awful. It’s awful and I hate it. Doesn’t that contradict his point of the orchestra needing to tune off-stage? Sure, I’ll accept applauding after a stellar performance of a well-known concerto’s first movement, but that’s it.

    I completely agree with the program including a contemporary piece. This is a good way to ease audiences into modern compositions, as some are hard to process. After all, every piece of music was new once.

  2. cayleycarroll
    October 23, 2014

    Greenwood and Brannimann have a solid point that the formality of concerts can be off-putting (and confusing) to new audience members. I remember when I attended my first opera I felt intimidated by all of the fancy people in the audience who knew when to clap and knew what “good opera” sounded like. I had no idea what was going on culturally and I did not know what I was listening for or how to appreciate it, musically. The whole experience left me feeling overwhelmed and embarrassed. Had i not been required by my family (I have a family of musicians) to continue attending operas and concerts, I would have decided the art form was not for me and moved on. Integrating casual elements into concerts and performances may help new audience members become acclimated to the fine art culture. Bringing down the dress code, adding cocktails, add family friendly elements and interaction between the performer and the audience member are viable options in making the experience less of a culture shock of new audience members.

    P.S. I agree with Aubrey that clapping between movements is annoying! But I wonder what happened in the evolution of music where clapping for soloists (i.e. jazz) is customary and between movements is not.

  3. shrulala
    October 23, 2014

    Classical music is like Indian classical dance. We as practitioners are trying to make it relevant and keep it alive. We have to find ways to lure the audiences. There is so much competition to contend with like Bollywood and anything modern.
    Its really sad that we have to work so hard to get people in.

  4. torisharbaugh
    October 24, 2014

    I actually was considering posting this article before I chose my other one. There a lot of key ideas that growing music organizations can take out of this. First and foremost, making classical music relevant and relatable. The only reason I am enthralled with opera and classical music is because of my classical voice studies in high school. For me, watching operas and listening to classical music was a way contextualize my studies. So they question to answer is this: How do we make classical music relatable to a crowd that has no previous engagement with it?

    I completely agree with Cayley that the formality of classical concerts is off-putting to the potential new audiences. A lot of my friends are interested in learning about classical music because of my deep admiration for it, but there are a lot of barrier to entry. My friends do not want to feel disconnected from society when they are attending a concert, or pretend to be someone they are not. They especially do not want to feel obligated to put on an “elitist” mentality. I think incorporating modern technology is critical for the survival of classical music.

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