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What Has the Symphony Done for Me Lately?

Tim Smith's recent article (Attention-getters can detract from music’s mission, September 25) in the Baltimore Sun takes up the interesting trends among symphony orchestras to get younger listeners into their halls:

Former BSO music director David Zinman has gone all out in the hipster direction at his Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, offering concerts that don't even start until 10 p.m. Afterward, the audience is treated to an array of enticements -- "Electro-Party, Dance Floor, Chill-Out Lounge, Bar" (as the ensemble's Web site describes it). The hall becomes, in essence, a new destination for late-night clubbers. Some orchestras throw in free food (this presumably attracts every age group). Several bring in visual extras -- large video screens that show close-ups of the performers or project imagery related to the music being performed. The MTV generation, it is widely assumed, expects, even demands, as much activity for the eye as the ear.
You have to read the whole article to appreciate how far these ideas have already permeated symphony culture. However, as Alex Ross has noted at The Rest Is Noise, Drew McManus at Adaptistration has a good post, with links to good journalistic essays on the topic, about how lower ticket prices are the best way to attract a broader, younger audience. Video screens and post-concert clubbing events are probably not going to help in reducing ticket prices.


Princess Alpenrose said...

No, you're right, they're not.

What's going to help is PPV simulcasts. It's about time we used the existing technology to reach a wider (paying) audience without having to try so hard to appear "hip" or "cool" or whatever.

The harder they try that approach, the more it fails.

Meantime, I can't see/hear/experience the premiere of Doc Atomic or one of the first 20-50 (100?) performances, for love or money....

Anonymous said...

Nudity! Full. Frontal. Nudity. Of very attractive and very naked young men and women. That's how you will get the young crowd out. That, low prices and free alcohol. But that's just my idea.


Mark Barry said...

I'd go! Kegger?

Anonymous said...

yay. Mark's with me 110% here! Hey... the BSO is throwing a dozen new programs, all of which are designed to dumb dow... err... reach out to young audiences. We should suggest this one to them. They might pick up on it.


Princess Alpenrose said...

Okay, sounds good to me - count me in!

We'll drink so heavily that we won't think about how much $$$ it costs to put on those kinds of parties ... Hey, I could use a good "lost" night, after some of these conversations!

Then again, I'm still waiting to hear back from the BSO on a PR internship; maybe if I get it I could suggest it (note the facetious tone tone and Charles D.-like eye twitching...)