Should Audience Have Input For Programming?

What would happen if audiences were invited to participate in the planning of programming for orchestras? Many people would say this could be disastrous! After all, wouldn’t this be a path to all Beethoven concerts? (um, we have already done this without audience input!) There are assumptions and biases about audiences and what they will like and want to buy tickets for. It’s pretty much a fact that most people will have heard of Beethoven, Brahms, or Mozart, and orchestra managers and music directors rightfully know that familiar names will sell tickets … Continue Reading

Immersive Arts

Walking down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue the other day I came across advertisement after advertisement for immersive experiences, including The King Tut Immersive Experience, The Prince Experience, The Van Gogh Immersive, The Harry Potter Immersive Experience and so on. The one that caught my eye and made me think of my own classical world was The Immersive Nutcracker. While many symphony and ballet organizations rely on yearly Nutcrackers to bring in families to the theaters, this new immersive experience seemed to be a direct threat. I posted this thought on Facebook a while … Continue Reading

The Superpower We All Have (but don’t use)

Feeling needed, valued, seen, and appreciated are all things we humans like. When people acknowledge what others do or bring to a company or organization, it can be extremely powerful. It can make the person work harder, stay with the company longer, and feel more connected to the organization. Although the orchestra world actively thanks and acknowledges patrons and sponsors regularly (for the most part), is there enough acknowledgement within the organization itself? Over the past couple decades as a professional musician, I’ve heard several voices expressing a lack of appreciation or … Continue Reading

Improve Through Improv

When corporations are faced with crisis, challenges, or just want to regroup and refocus, many have found that offering improv (improvisation) workshops is a great way to unify the company, encourage creativity, and streamline communication company-wide. Nonprofit organizations, especially orchestras, are no different with needs of finding focus, creativity, and unity. And coming out of this pandemic these organizations really ought to be firing on all cylinders. Embracing the improv workshop mindset would be something orchestras should consider! Many of us in the orchestra business know there is a communication challenge, a … Continue Reading

Your Orchestra Says It’s Progressive, Your Auditions Requirements Say Otherwise: 2022 Update

Several years back I wrote an article about why it was important for orchestras to update their audition repertoire requirements. The repertoire lists that musicians were asked to prepare for auditions was not reflecting the updated missions of the ensembles, nor was it reflective of the music being programmed. Over the last four years, the social justice movement has had a positive influence on the way orchestras approach programming while some are producing DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) statements. As we head towards what we think is the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel of this pandemic, … Continue Reading