Selling My Concerts at 30,000 Feet


I use to be shy and apologetic when I’d talk about my upcoming concerts. It’s easy to assume people would find classical music boring, a dying art, hard to care, etc. But a few years ago, something clicked for me.

If we sell our art like it’s not worthy, why on Earth would anyone want to come to a concert much less listen to a recording? I love what I do and I believe to my core that symphonic music is accessible, enjoyable, and inviting to anyone if shared the right way.

During a Southwest Airlines flight this past week, I had planned on reading Michael Pollan’s new book, “Cooked.”  I’d pictured a rare window of time to get engrossed in a book, but instead I found myself engaged in conversations with a friendly passenger seated next to me.

He nodded at the book, asked if I liked it. And then we began to talk about farming practices and raising animals-all the topics typically found in any Michael Pollan book. We then graduated into “What do you do for a living” kind of conversation.

He was a former military pilot, turned corporate pilot for a company that carried the rich and famous from point A to point B. I mentioned I am a violinist.

We chatted about everything from farming to Seal Team 6, leadership qualities to the latest Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained.

“Speaking of that movie,” he’d asked, “What was that tune where the men were all on horseback, raiding the campsite of Django and King?”

I knew that scene well since I laughed loudly during that part in the movie theater. What a refreshing and awesome choice of music the Dies Irae movement from Verdi’s Requiem was for that particular scene. And to this fellow passenger, it was memorable and intriguing.

“Do you ever fly into Jackson Hole?” I asked. “The Grand Teton Music Festival is performing that very piece this summer, among other really awesome pieces for seven straight weeks.”

“I’ll be in and out of Jackson many times this summer; many clients have their trips already booked.”

Before the flight ended, my fellow passenger decided to attend at least 2 concerts, buying tickets to the Verdi Requiem and the Mahler 6th Symphony concerts from his laptop using the Southwest Wifi service.

This fellow passenger and I probably would not find ourselves in the same social circles in everyday life. He’s a former military pilot, self proclaimed old fashioned Southerner, and a hunter during his days off. It would have been extremely easy to look at our differences and go back to my book, but instead we found a couple common grounds and he found that he indeed liked classical music.

I love selling my art and I believe that most people really do like classical music; they just don’t realize they already like it. Thanks to the movies like Django Unchained that use classical music, the books that mention classical music (the most recent is 50 Shades of Grey!), and to orchestral shows like Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, many people are exposed to classical music and find they love it.

It just takes the right reminder that classical music is wildly amazing, familiar, and enjoyable. Everyone has a common ground with this art form. They just don’t always know it.

About Holly Mulcahy

After hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. She spends her summers at the celebrated Grand Teton Music Festival. Believing in music as a healing and coping source, Holly founded Arts Capacity, a charitable 501(c)3 which focuses on bringing live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prisons. Arts Capacity addresses many emotional and character-building issues people face as they prepare for release into society. Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.

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3 thoughts on “Selling My Concerts at 30,000 Feet”

  1. Your encounter with the pilot/passenger on the flight is an excellent example of thinking on your feet and out of the box. It was a perfect opportunity to expose your art and create another fan of that art. Well done! Really well done!

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! I needed this reminder. It’s about that time of year when I have reached maximum burnout/exhaustion toward the end of the orchestra season, and it’s easy for the apathy to sneak in. Also still very depressed about Minnesota, both the MO and SPCO. So I appreciate your thoughtfulness, and also for spreading the word that what we do matters, and is awesome! 🙂


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