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Monthly Archives: June 2010
One thing that is always fun for us while we’re planning our Summer in the City concerts, is that we’re able to go a little bit outside of the box with our programming and marketing. It’s our hope that by doing so, we’ll get some people to experience the Symphony who may have never done so before, and also offer up programming that has a fun and relaxing vibe perfect for the summer months. Fresh faces, new concert experiences and a varied audience are what make our July concerts great for everyone!
So the question is: Will you be joining us?
Think of it as a 3-week span in which you can not only hear famous, well-known classical pieces such as Gustav Holst’s The Planets, but also get sprung forward to hear the Star Wars Suite, followed the next weekend by a double whammy – a symphony “rock concert” highlighting a classic band, and a video gamers dream concert (complete with a composer who attends the performance!)
Coming up next week, Hans Graf will be back in town, wholeheartedly welcoming you to the annual Houston Chronicle Dollar Concert on July 10. For only $1 per ticket, come hear your Orchestra in Jones Hall, as well as Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, performed by Stanislav Golovin, the grand prize winner of the Ima Hogg Competition.
And of course, we’re all excited to bring back two performances of The Planets — An HD Odyssey plus Star Wars on July 16 & 17. Those of you who didn’t make it to the January world premiere event now have the chance to experience this multi-media project before we take it to the U.K. in October.
So the question is: Will you be joining us?
Today’s post was written by our brand new Intern, Keith. A recent graduate of Rice University, Keith is hanging out in our Jones Hall offices and soaking up all he can about working for an arts organization. This time around, he shares his view about engaging new audiences and why it’s important for Orchestras to do so. Keep an eye out for more blog posts from Keith in the coming months!
Here’s one thing they don’t teach you at school: How to build an audience. I recently graduated with my master’s degree in music performance, and I was critiqued and challenged in many ways. But one question was never addressed: “Why put on a performance if nobody comes?”
An average flyer for a school recital reads like this: “Tonight!!! Violin Recital. Hear works by Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. Reception to follow.” It’s boring, but only because it’s designed to get their friends to stop practicing and come hear a show. It offers nothing more than the promise that there will in fact be free music and food, which is usually good enough for starving students. In the real world, it doesn’t work.
At a time when Orchestras all over the world are trying to grab the attention of new audiences, they do in part still stick to what they know (said flyers, billboards, radio promotions, etc.) My question is: What does that really offer a potential new audience? It seems in this age of entertainment oversaturation, we need to provide something more engaging, more relevant.
Like an increasing number of classical musicians (and music fans in general), I did not grow up listening to classical music. The first CD I bought was the Fugees. I spent more hours dissecting the dizzying wordplay of Mos Def and Talib Kweli than the formal structure of a Beethoven Symphony. When I got a car in high school I promptly installed subwoofers and blasted Kanye West, as opposed to Mahler.
Which brings us to Kanye’s song “Gone”. In it he offers, “Maybe you can be my intern, and in turn, I’ll show you how to cook up summer in the winter.” These words have been ringing in my ears lately as I recently began working at the Houston Symphony as the Digital Media/Marketing Intern. In the spirit of Kanye, I’d like to amend his statement slightly: “Maybe you can be my intern, and in turn, I’ll give you valuable work experience directly related to your interests (and maybe even a job one day).”
Although I nabbed the coveted “close friends and relatives” demographic for my recitals, I rarely thought about how to attract new audiences. Or what audiences really want. Or what motivates people to seek out transformative artistic experiences. But what could be more important for a musician, or arts organization, to know?
Luckily, Orchestras have recently been leading the way in terms of reaching out to new fans. While venues like the Poisson Rouge in New York City cater to the hipster/crossover crowd, the Houston Symphony is reaching out to all the music-lovers in Houston.
Taking the music to the people is a great way to get them interested. This summer, the Sounds Like Fun! series had the symphony playing everywhere from churches to high schools. The Symphony Summer Nights Series (try saying that 5 times fast!) takes place at Miller Outdoor Theater, where fans can picnic on the hill while hearing great music. On that note, don’t forget that there are still three more concerts at Miller – including a 4th of July spectacular featuring the Texas Tenors.
Technology is also playing a part. Recent experiments by the Houston Symphony have put the audience in control and given them greater ownership of the experience. Houston’s first-ever “Tweetcert” sent specially written program notes in real time to concertgoers’ smart phones. Another concert let fans pick from a number of encores via text.
It’s been said that if Miles Davis didn’t turn his back on the audience, the Beatles wouldn’t have been able to invade so easily. People may feel that classical music turned its back on them, but it’s encouraging and fulfilling to be a part of an organization that tirelessly seeks out music lovers in new ways.
We hope you’re having a blast at our free Miller Outdoor Theatre concerts – and now we want to see the experience through your eyes! Through July 11, submit your photos from those concerts (including both concerts this weekend, and the July 4th ExxonMobil Star-Spangled Salute) to our OH SNAP! photo contest. By doing so, you’ll have the chance to win ticket vouchers to one of next season’s concerts, as well as be featured on our website, in SymphonE-News and right here on the blog! Enter to win in one – or all – of the categories: Best performance shot*, best family/friends shot, best fireworks shot**, best venue shot and best audience shot. Photos can be portrait style or abstract … just let your imagination guide your eye!
All you have to do to enter the contest is join the Houston Symphony Flickr Group, add a photo to the group pool and tag it with OhSnap!PhotoContest. The deadline for submissions is July 11, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. CST. For more detailed instructions on entering the contest and to read the rules and regulations, please visit us online. For other questions, it’s as easy as sending an e-mail over to email@example.com.
We can’t wait to see all of the entries — there have been some great ones so far. Happy snapping and we’ll see you on the hill!
*Please note there is NO flash photography permitted while the Orchestra is performing.
**There will be a fireworks display only at the July 4th ExxonMobil Star-Spangled Salute concert.
Over the next few weeks, we hope you’ll all be able to join us at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park for Summer Symphony Nights – a series of free concerts featuring exciting repertoires and the chance for an affordable night out on the town! Here’s a quick rundown of what we have to offer (and remember, all concerts are FREE and begin at 8:30 p.m.):
- Bernstein and Ravel (Brett Mitchell, conductor): Thursday, June 17, 2010
- Mendelssohn’s Third (Robert Franz, conductor): Friday, June 18, 2010
- Tchaikovsky’s Fourth (Diego Matheuz, conductor): Friday, June 25, 2010
- Dvorak’s New World (Krzysztof Urbanski, conductor): Saturday, June 26, 2010
- A Star-Spangled Salute (Mike Krajewski, conductor): Sunday, July 4, 2010
During this year’s performances, we’re excited to add some interesting technological twists to the mix. At June 17th’s “Tweetcert,” you’ll be able to follow our Twitter feed (@HouSymphony) to read live, up-to-the-minute program notes written by Assistant Conductor Brett Mitchell. We’ll also have the audience vote via text message for the encore during our June 18th concert. The pieces to choose from will be Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5, Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville or Rossini’s Overture to William Tell – each one sure to be a delight!
And what would summer be without some great pictures? Throughout the entire series, we’re inviting you to enter our first-ever photo contest (which we’ve named OH SNAP!), and we look forward to selecting some of the best photos to win!
So, when you’re on your way into Miller, make sure and grab a Symphony hand fan – it will include all of the info you need to participate in these activities! For more information about the programs, conductors and guest artists for Symphony Summer Nights, please visit us online.