You know the drill. Take your seat, don’t move, sit quietly, then applaud enthusiastically only at the appropriate times. Is this prescribed concert behavior the best way to engage audiences? Susan Key—special projects director for the San Francisco Symphony—examines this question.
There has been a lot of discussion lately in arts circles about the importance of listening to our audiences. For me, the point was underscored by an audience question during our March 17 Forum in San Francisco:
Sitting in the audience can be a very passive experience. I mean, my head is spinning. I have lots of thoughts going through it. But I’m not supposed to move… the expectation is that we sit. We’re well behaved. …but we’re not supposed to do anything. And I wonder whether on occasion there could be a little bit more—like in rock concerts [when] people get up and dance.
Her question brings up an issue that I think orchestras ignore at their peril: the distance between the multi-textured human experience embedded in the works on our concerts and the human behavior we prescribe for their consumption. (more…)
Topic: Audience | Tags: american mavericks, susan key
May 2, 2012 by Beth Hondl | Comments (3)
In this post, Susan Key—special projects director for the San Francisco Symphony—examines the role the physical concert hall plays in creativity. It’s a question inspired by tonight’s performance by Mason Bates at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. Join us tomorrow for our live event with Mason Bates!
Tonight, Mason Bates wears two very different hats at Davies Symphony Hall. First, he will appear onstage with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and organist Paul Jacobs to perform his new composition, Mass Transmission. Once the concert is over, he’ll move to the Second Tier lobby-turned-lounge for an event called Davies After Hours. In a nightclub-like atmosphere, he’ll spin electronic tracks and beats as “DJ Masonic” with friends David Arend on upright bass, Aaron Kahn on trumpet and Gloria Justen on electric violin.
In a recent conversation, Mason reflected on the impact different spaces have on the audience’s experience. The concert hall encourages a hyper-focused type of listening while the nightclub/lounge vibe is certainly more informal. (more…)
Topic: Creativity | Tags: mason bates, new world symphony, susan key
March 16, 2012 by Beth Hondl | Comments (1)