The Laughing Goat

The tuning began and a small part of the audience erupted into laughter. Eight residents of Walker State Faith and Character Based Prison were sitting in the front row of the audience, laughing with their violin instructor who was on stage standing with her husband, a guitarist. Tuning. Two hours earlier in the rehearsal, violinist and instructor Mary Margaret Neel joked with the violin class of prisoners that her guitarist husband would take “forever to tune.” This rehearsal was the first time I’d seen the violin class since I started it back … Continue Reading

One Thousand Words for a Picture

Below is a review/essay about the opera Arts Capacity collaborated on with the prisoners of Walker State Faith and Character Based Prison. The opera premiered on January 9th in the prison, and had a second performance on the 10th in public theater in Chattanooga. Since this project has been too close to my heart, I don’t feel I can offer a proper summary of the event itself. Instead, a Walker State Prison resident wrote this essay which sums up the whole experience better than I could have imagined. I’m very proud of … Continue Reading

Close The Loop

For the longest time, orchestras would advertise a concert and then present the concert, and that was perceived as enough. In the last several years there has been a realization that it wasn’t enough and phrases like “Audience Engagement” started to pop up. There are many definitions of Audience Engagement depending on what side of the business you talk with. But what is clear right now is that orchestras rarely close the loop which includes the audience into the concert equation. Orchestras start the loop by presenting a concert, and typically they … Continue Reading

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