The Power of Community

The Michigan Pops Orchestra puts on only a few concerts a year, yet regularly draws over 1500 paying audience members. Mark Clague, co-moderator of our live events and professor at the University of Michigan, takes a look at how community makes it possible:

When orchestras are deeply integrated with their communities, the authentic connections that motivate listeners to action become increasingly likely. Today, I think these connections are likely more powerful person-to-person than institution-to-customer, so it’s vital that those involved with an orchestra share news of their love of the ensemble and its music… Read article.

1 Comment

  1. Anthony Do-Hoon Kim says:

    I’m one of the fortunate souls at the University of Michigan campus to be part of this wonderful student ensemble. Michigan Pops Orchestra’s success has so much to do with the personal investment from each one of its members. The student board meets once a week to plan and execute the ensemble’s goals–this includes marketing, advertising, and anything that has to do with getting the word out. It helps that we have over one hundred members in the orchestra, and many of them can bring in as much as 10-15 audience members for a concert. Clearly our concerts are geared towards the young audience. We not only perform from the popular and standard orchestral repertoire, but we involve skits, videos, lights, etc. during our performances. Essentially the concert turns into a show, so that we’re entertaining the audience, as much as we are performing music.

    The real key to getting the audience into the hall however, has so much to do with the “power of community”, as Professor Clague expressed so eloquently. We’re constantly looking for ways to be PRESENT in the University of Michigan community, not just by coming up with themes and performances related to the NOW, but going out into the community and finding ways to connect to our audience. For example we are at this moment planning for a number of “Flash Mob Orchestra” performances in various parts of the campus and the Ann Arbor community. We will take video footage from our flash mob performances and post them on youtube. Once we have an edited video of ourselves invading public places with our wonderful music, as well as an advertisement for our upcoming concerts, we will then send out the links to all of our members, who will in turn post the video on youtube, vimeo, facebook, google+, myspace, twitter, and on their personal blogs. Chances are, each one of our members will reach 50-100 of their friends (if not more) through these online-interactive tools. When you’re out there making things happen and creating excitement in their own backyard, the community also tend to rally behind the ensemble and come to our concerts to support and enjoy our performances.

    This leads me to wonder why most of the orchestras don’t fully utilize the college campuses in their territories. It would make perfect sense to start student clubs at each campus that might organize outings to concerts as a group, with backstage pass or offerings to special events and concerts for students ONLY with integrated social events. There are so many young college students who are in love with the Beethovens, the Stravinskys and the Mahlers, but they have no way of connecting with other young students who might also be interested in going to performances. Imagine how awkward it is for an eighteen year old to walk into a classical concert by him or herself, sitting amongst a SEA of white hair. Mind you, I find a sea of white hair to be quite beautiful, but when you’re a college freshmen, it sure feels awkward! It doesn’t help that they all stare at you in a funny way and say things like, “Oh! A young person at the concert!” Perhaps if the major orchestras created an opening for these closeted classical geeks to unite, the audience landscape might look quite different today. And once the college club system becomes established, you’re not only selling tickets for this year, but you are growing a future audience that might be coming back for years to come.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.