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Monthly Archives: April 2010
What makes people feel connected to the Houston Symphony? That question was my challenge for our season campaign. Is it the experience, is it the programming, is it the local arts aspect? All of the above actually, and for the 2010-2011 Season, we decided to focus on the connection of hometown pride. This city has a lot of pride for the arts scene because we have one of the best. Of course, this is from a hometown girl’s perspective, but hey, I’m the one writing the blog here. We wanted to connect our musicians and our organization with the people of this city on a personal level with something we can all relate to. And what we can all relate to, hopefully, is that we are all a part of Houston (and surrounding areas), and we can be proud of our local talent and arts organizations. Our marketing campaign is all about that connection.
In order to create this connection we decided to work out a campaign where we show our musicians with their instruments in recognizable locations around the city. Locations like Discovery Green, Hermann Park and a Metro Rail station. We used taglines such as “Music for Houston. Music for YOU.” We also incorporated photos with the musicians in the various locations with patrons, and relating quotes about their symphony experiences.
We had a great time working on a photo shoot for this. We had one day to have 2 photographers, 7 Symphony musicians, 3 marketers, 5 patrons and 4 locations all coordinated into an around town shoot. One of the most eventful of these photo shoots was the one with Phillip Freeman of our orchestra who plays the bass trombone. We scheduled him as the second to last shoot of the day at the Metro Rail station near the Medical Center. So we got there with dreams of doing all kinds of fantastic shots with our musician and patrons on and around the trains arriving and departing. We got all set up with cameras, tripods, lights, etc. only to be kicked off the platform by the metro police within ten minutes. Apparently you need a permit to take pictures here. So, our brilliant plan was foiled, and we moved across the street to do the rest of our photo shoot in front of one of the Medical Center buildings. As we were wrapping up, here comes yet another metro police vehicle. We were questioned a second time and given our second warning of the day not to get back on the Metro Rail platform. My favorite line of the day was from our fearless Marketing leader, Glenn Taylor. When we were asked “Who is in charge here?” He boldly replied, “I guess that can be me.”
Anyway, we ended up with some amazing shots that are being used as we speak in all our marketing materials for the 10-11 Season. You can find them in brochures (click here to view the brochures online), print ads and online. And, coming soon you will see some more casual shots of our musicians downtown for our Symphony Summer in the City campaign. The hope is that seeing the musicians about town in your own city relates that they are Houstonians like us who love this city, and want to bring you the best music they can offer. The Arts in Houston is truly thriving, and we, as Houstonians, should have pride in the caliber of music, visual art and performance art this city offers.
Support the arts in any way you can because we all want it to be around for our children and our children’s children. I think the best possible way you can support the arts in Houston is to subscribe to the 10-11 Symphony Season … but that’s just me.
So as many of you have probably heard, dance-pop superstar Lady Gaga’s July 25th performance at the Toyota Center sold out within…hours, I think. It’s no secret then that Houstonians are gaga over the 23-year-old singer/songwriter with a flair for theatrics. Not to worry, though, since the famed artist added another date on July 26th for an extension of the Houston portion of her “Monster’s Ball Tour.”
But what of fanatics are clamoring for Houston Symphony tickets? I know what you’re thinking…”C’mon, that doesn’t happen with a Symphony concert,” you say. Well, although we haven’t yet had a sell-out a la Gaga, I’d say the Symphony’s experienced its share of a ‘Gaga Effect’ of sorts this season.
Our four sold-out January performances of The Planets—An HD Odyssey (and praised performance in New York’s Carnegie Hall) resulted in a series of concerts to be unmatched in the Symphony’s history. And it’s these performances that have inspired the addition of a fifth concert this summer (only a week before Gaga’s concert, in fact. Hey, nothing prevents you from catching two concerts in two weeks, right?!) Be sure to attend The Planets—An HD Odyssey plus Star Wars this summer for a taste of what Houston concert-goers have dubbed a true hit, with the addition of all-time favorite John Williams music from the legendary Star Wars movies.
In fact, we’ve just announced our 2010 “Symphony Summer in the City” concert series, which will also feature Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY. Within hours of the announcement, Final Fantasy fans were on our site clamoring to get the best tickets in the house, together with an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity with composer Nobuo Uematsu. I think I may smell a sell-out. Houston – let’s make it happen!
But back to Lady Gaga. If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy an interesting synergy with our third “Symphony Summer in the City” concert. Gaga nicked her name from Queen’s song “Radio Gaga,” and has gained inspiration from the British rock band described as giving the greatest live performances ever. You’ll not want to miss the Houston Symphony performing The Music of Queen on July 22.
Hear singer Brody Dolyniuk, who captures the sound and essence of Freddie Mercury, while the full orchestra and a rock band provide the power and harmony for a complete concert experience, including concert lighting and sound. This concert will feature music from albums such as Classic Queen, A Night at the Opera, Sheer Heart Attack, Jazz, News of the World, A Kind of Magic, The Works.
Houston, when was the last time you went ‘Lady Gaga’ over concert tickets? We want to hear about it. Leave a comment to share your story, and the writer of the best comment will win two tickets to their choice of one of our July concerts.
This post comes from Melissa, one of our marketing directors. She lives and breathes anything having to do with special projects, including The Planets — An HD Odyssey, the summer concert series as well as our holiday concerts, to name a few. Is it summer already? Melissa’s excited for you guys to come see us!
I took my 7-year-old daughter to her first, in her words “grown-up concert” last night — Eschenbach and Lang Lang.
She’s been to many of the Sounds Like Fun! and Weatherford Family series concerts over the years. She remembers fondly when conductor Robert Franz was wheeled out on stage dressed as Toto to start the Wizard of OZ concert, and I thought for sure her favorite piece that day would be the Orchestral Suite from the Wizard of Oz. But it turns out it was Mosolov’s Iron Foundry from Stal’ because it “sounded just like I think a factory would sound, Mom.” With that comment, I thought she’d be ready to attend a Houston Symphony evening concert.
My daughter has been taking piano lessons for almost 2 years and loves listening to classical music, mainly Baroque—because she can dance her latest ballet moves to Bach, Vivaldi and Handel. So I thought she would enjoy hearing young musicians in the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra and Lang Lang.
Last night, she marveled at the speed at which the violins played Prokovfiev’s First Symphony. And we were close enough to the stage that when Lang Lang sat down to the piano she openly worried “Mom, he forgot something!” I then explained to my young piano student that Lang Lang has memorized what he is going to play—and that comment was met with the certain all to familiar look of “are you sure?”
You may be wondering how this all ties in to the title of this blog. Well, after intently listening to Prokovfiev’s First Symphony and the first two movements of the Piano Concerto, my 7-year-old was fast asleep in her chair. As I looked over and watched her, I shook my head in wonder at how fast time flies, how another school year is almost over, how we are planning summer camps and family vacations, and how I am planning the marketing campaigns for another Symphony Summer in the City season. I debated if I should end that last sentence with a period or an exclamation mark—-I haven’t decided how I actually feel about that just yet! You’ll have to ask me when I am working out the marketing plans for our Christmas concerts in June!
Check out the Houston Symphony website, where we’re announcing the Symphony Summer in the City schedule. You will be able to see when we are performing free concerts in a neighborhood near you as a part of our Sounds Like Fun! series and at Miller Outdoor Theatre — both for our June classical concerts and our annual 4th of July concert.
If you are anything like me, you’ll wonder “where did the time go?” But you’ve enjoyed every minute of that wild, wonderful, hectic and beautiful journey called life.
When you first see him walk on stage, there’s no question that this music superstar has a flair for the flashy – right down to his footwear (custom ADIDAS sneakers, to be exact). Pianist Lang Lang commands respect wherever he goes, not only because of the magic that comes through his fingertips, but because of what he means for his generation.
At 27, he has become a bridge between old and new generations of classical music fans, and through his art and philanthropy, has truly made a difference in the lives of millions of people. The Chinese piano prodigy is a prime example of what can happen when a child is exposed to music at an early age, and then has the opportunity to explore and develop that interest.
When Lang Lang was just 3 years old, he began playing piano in his hometown of Shenyang, a city in northeastern China. By age 5, he had won his first piano competition; at 9, he started studying at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music; and by 17, was a star.
His international popularity was further cemented when he appeared during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. He has single-handedly been credited with inspiring over 40 million Chinese children to take piano lessons – a phenomenon The Today Show labeled the “Lang Lang Effect.”
Because of that success, Lang Lang has dedicated himself to a philanthropic cause very dear to his heart – one that provides musical opportunities for children who may have never otherwise had them.
The Lang Lang International Music Foundation, Inc, has enabled the pianist to “support cutting-edge philanthropy programs using music education, exposure, and outreach to deliver messages of hope and inspiration to children around the world,” according to the organization’s website.
Exposing children to music is also one of our main focuses here at the Houston Symphony. Whether it be our Symphony Detective Concerts, Explorer Concerts, inviting student musicians to perform in-hall or even going out into the community during the summer Sounds Like Fun! series, we are always trying to reiterate that Music Matters! (which, by the way, is also the name of our outreach program).
It is through these programs, that we, just like Lang Lang, are able to provide an experience for Houston-area youngsters that will leave a lasting impression – and hopefully help them unlock a hidden passion for music.
Join us this Wednesday for a one-night-only Symphony Special concert featuring the rockstar himself, Lang Lang, and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra – made up of the world’s finest musicians under age 27. With former Houston Symphony Music Director Christoph Eschenbach on the podium, hear for yourself why Music Matters!
Have you ever played the game with your friends where you can pick one person, living or dead, to have dinner with and discuss anything you want? Some people may pick a celebrity – maybe Marilyn Monroe to find out if all the rumors were true, or Justin Bieber to see if his hair moves at all (am I the only person fascinated by this kid’s hair?) Some people may pick a president or other world leader to discuss deep, significant topics. But I don’t really fit into either category, because I would pick a dead composer to stare at and then giggle like a school girl.
I’ve always loved Tchaikovsky. I remember watching the TV version of The Nutcracker as a kid, more enthralled with the music than the dancing. At one point, my sister and I made up a whole dance routine around the music for Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (yes, we still remember how to do it, and no, I won’t perform it in public for anyone). My high school private lesson teacher, Mrs. Hackney, was the piccolo player for the Houston Ballet, and I remember being so envious that she got to play the amazing piccolo part for the Nutcracker every year.
Once I got to college, I developed a serious crush on this composer. I was introduced to his concertos and symphonies. I wrote several papers on his life and musical style. It is hard for me to explain, but I connect with his work in ways that just do not compare to other composers. My personal favorite is Symphony No. 4 in F minor. I can pretty much sing the entire symphony to you, and I’m always trying to find a way to tell someone about this piece. Before I worked for the Houston Symphony, I was the Education Director for the Akron Symphony Orchestra in Akron, Ohio. I did a few elementary school presentations and used this piece to demonstrate how you can be inspired by music to create your own story with your imagination. We listened to the first few minutes of each movement, and then developed our own story based on what we heard. My favorite was a story that involved a princess who was lost in the woods and had to battle Were-Mice. In case you do not know what a Were-Mouse is, it is basically a werewolf, but a mouse instead of a wolf. The teacher loved the whole presentation, and she told me it was a great way to make the students think creatively. I loved that I had exposed my favorite composer to a group of students in a new way.
I once had a friend who scoffed at my admiration for Tchaikovsky, declaring that most of his work was “fluff at best.” I could not believe it. I was in too much shock to argue in the heat of the moment, though this particular friend would probably not be swayed as Mahler and Wagner are his go-to ‘easy listening’ composers. I thought about his comment for awhile, and I came to this conclusion: some people may find Tchaikovsky’s music fluff because it is, above all, else accessible and popular. Tchaikovsky (in my humble opinion) is a master when it comes to grabbing your ear. Almost any individual can hum one of The Nutcracker themes, or instantly recognize the love theme from Romeo & Juliet. The opening of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor is classic and instantly commands the audience’s attention. What little girl didn’t dance in a ballet class to the music of Swan Lake (or later, as a teenager, drool over Saved By The Bell’s Zach Morris dancing in the Bayside High production of Swan Lake)? No July 4 picnic is complete without a performance of the 1812 Overture, cannons and all. Accessibility is the name of the game, and it is a great tool for orchestras to utilize when trying to draw in more patrons. Like Tchaikovsky? Here, you might like Mendelssohn or Beethoven or Shostakovich or any number of composers. To say he is merely fluff is truly short sighted (and given my crush, kinda mean).
This weekend’s concert opens with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. I, of course, know the piece inside and out, and I am very excited to hear our orchestra play it live. However, I’m also equally excited for the Barber Violin Concerto and Shostakovich Symphony No. 5. If you don’t know the works, you should definitely try to come out to Jones Hall for a listen. Don’t be intimidated – allow Tchaikovsky to hook you and then just sit back, relax and enjoy!