Orchestras and the Tech Revolution

So, we’re stuck in the 19th century. You know it and I know it. Classical musicians are one of only two subspecies of Homo Sapien Sapien who still wear tailcoats. Innovations such as video screens, subtitles, mood lighting, etc., find it hard to be accepted in the concert hall. So we need new ways of taking advantage of the technology now available to us.

Challenge = Opportunity part 3: Steeling Hearts

In my first post, Out of the Shadows, I mentioned that the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony out of all the major orchestras I keep track of, truly demonstrate and care about the audience connection.  Here are two instances of how they turned seemingly hopeless challenges into opportunities. Plus, the first in the series of “On the Go”, what people in the business are listening to right now…..

Not Sorry, Charlie……..

The question of the day – how do you satisfy an audience that ranges from 12 to 80? That is what I pondered last Thursday, 15 November, and it’s taken me this long to write about it. I’m going to tell you what happened, but I’m not going to let on how we did it until the end of the post. So there………….

Humor in music(ians)

FINALLY! One of the great knocks against classical music is the lack of humor on the part of those of us who are the greatest proponents of the art. This is, of course, specious. Musicians are frequently hilarious, and if the public actually knew what goes on backstage they would be shocked.

When even the Brits are ahead of you…. Conductor Smack Down!

There has been much brouhaha concerning concert attire lately. Now, for the record, I love my Tails. They are made by my good and dear friend tailor John here in Minneapolis. John is a self-described stereotypical Italian Jewish tailor who knows much more music than I do and is one of the happiest people I know. He loves his job and I love working with him. When I put on the Tails he made for me it’s like I slip into another world of fancy dress and high society. Or in the … Continue Reading

Chasing our Tails…Conductor Smack Down!

The first in a series of Conductor Smack Downs! The topic what we wear, and what the audience wears has popped up yet again.  We so often don’t have an answer to our audience woes, so why do we turn to fashion to solve our problems?  If we are building a house and we are looking at a hole in the ground where it will eventually be, the window treatments should be the furthest  thing from our minds…. Holly’s Partial Observer article mentions the audience expectations in regards to dress.  I am … Continue Reading


Music is now officially a banned substance at marathons and races by USA Track and Field.  We have finally made the sports pages!  We are now the unfair advantage. I met with a friend in Rochester the other day who told me she can run further when listening to the first movement of the Eroica Symphony.  I should have told her to download some Schoenberg as she would also run faster just to try and get away from the sound! In the immortal words of Bill Maher, I kid Schoenberg.….

What every musician needs…….

Musicians live in a world of fantasy, aural color, imagination, and all to frequently self-delusion.  But I am fond of reminding people that what we do on a daily basis certainly beats working for a living.  That’s not to say it isn’t hard work, but it is to say that we frequently get much more joy out of what we do than do most people.  But every musician wants to go beyond the daily performance.  We want to be known for all time, for posterity, and be known beyond our little home … Continue Reading