Going to a classical concert can be an experience that crystallizes a moment in one’s life that, when viewed in retrospect, can be an irrevocably life changing. We hear of these awakenings in our musical circles often and for many, it can be such an intense bewildering occurrence. I remember such an event in my life when I was 12 and my father took me to an opera performance of Verdi’s La Traviata.
Why limit TAFTO to friends? Why not Take A Date to the Orchestra (TADTO) or perhaps Take More-Than-a-Friend to the Orchestra (TMTAFTO?). Freelance music journalist and WNYC Radio producer Brian Wise was wondering the same thing and being the proactive producer-type of guy that he is, decided to do something about it. His results are infinitely better than reality television and chocked full of useful feedback to the question “What steps could …
I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Felcyn, producer and program host for Detroit’s WRCJ-FM, 90.9, for the first time only a few months ago. Although we had a great on-air conversation, it was heartening to learn during our off-air chats about his efforts over the years to promote classical music. Chris enthusiastically jumped into the role of TAFTO contributor by putting together three stand-alone audio contributions that feature Chris interacting with concert-goer newbies. Honest and entertaining feedback abounds in each segment (I hope the DSO marketing department is listening. ~ Drew McManus
I had looked forward to this evening for a long time. Rufus Wainwright was going to join me for dinner and an LA Philharmonic new music concert. On the bill was John Adams “Short Ride in a Fast Train,” Igor Stravinsky’s “Requiem Canticles,” and Lou Harrison’s “Symphony on G.” I had never met Rufus, but he agreed to join me on a free night. He was to arrive by train, so I made reservations at Traxx at Union Station for 6 pm.
There is value in repetition. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn, both as a child when I discovered that I was expected to practice my music lessons every day, and as a teacher when I had to repeat a lecture point because some students didn’t understand what I was saying. This lesson was made easier when I realized that even if the exact same notes were played, or the exact same words said, I made new meaning. I heard new things in the notes or felt new things in my lips and fingers as I repeated Clarke technical studies over and over. My students (hopefully) understand more about suspensions when I say again how to prepare the dissonance, especially if they weren’t listening the first time!
As a good Take A Friend To the Orchestra exercise, I could probably convince 10 friends to buy tickets to experience a night at the orchestra for the first time in their lives. But as the Oliver Wyman’s Audience Growth Initiative study shows, about nine of those friends probably won’t return the following year.
Lucky me! I’m actually paid to take people to concerts. Usually it is to discuss acoustic attributes of various performance spaces with folks about to embark on building their own. These people are already in love with the sound of orchestras. Not a hard sell to get them to a concert at all.
I’ve noticed one of the most uncomfortable moments that arise when I take a friend to the orchestra comes after you’re seated. You’ve arrived in plenty of time, removed your coat, and turned off your cell phone—so now what? Unless your dinner conversation was particularly riveting, you need something to chat about—ideally something that will help set your friend at ease.