1. Attracting Younger Audiences – A College Student’s Perspective

    Today’s biggest challenge for orchestras? Getting enthusiastic young people into the concert hall. This blog post by Bernard Lin won an honorable mention in our recent American Orchestra Forum blog contest. He is student at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

    Young audiences undoubtedly generate the most enthusiasm in music of all genres. Their willingness to buy merchandise, attend concerts, and constantly blast music indicate their ability to follow their favorite artists with utmost intensity. Half a century ago, a young Leonard Bernstein captured the hearts of children across America as he led the New York Philharmonic in Young People’s Concerts, teaching them the basics of music, introducing them to titans such as Mahler and Tchaikovsky, even opening a door to jazz. In the 21st century there seems to be an unfilled void, a gap that (more…)

  2. “Audience Experience” Starts Long Before the Lights Dim – How to Improve the Customer Journey

    In this blog post, James Buckhouse, head of the Corporate Design team at Twitter, offers a new approach to “audience experience” using techniques drawn from technology and consulting companies. This post is the third of three winning entries from our recent American Orchestra Forum blog contest.

    Blog contest winner James Buckhouse

    Your audience experiences your organization long before the lights dim and far past the final ovation. Inspired by the TED talk by Peter Gregson on the user experience of the performing arts, this free downloadable workshop adapts techniques from technology and consulting companies to help performing arts organizations take care of their audience.

    Other industries map this path as an extended customer journey. Performing Arts organizations can borrow this process to create an extended audience experience.

    In a way, every arts organization perpetually remains a start-up: new music emerges from the chasm of cultural shifts, new audience members catch the drift; new ideas tilt the emphasis from one approach to another; new means of distribution and communication mingle our lives and our art in a braid of narrativity.

    So let’s start! Let’s start up a new approach to the arts that proves value and retains the best of the old traditions, but also celebrates the birth of art—the new and unnamed—and dares to iterate.

    –James Buckhouse

    Download the Audience Experience Workshop PDF

    Right-click the link above to download the workshop PDF or find it here: http://teamclassical.com/resources.html

    James Buckhouse leads the Corporate Design team at Twitter, where he oversees the creation, production, strategy and design of all video and visual material for the company. Additionally, he is the founder of teamclassical.com. Prior to Twitter, he was Executive Creative Director at Duarte where he worked with Facebook, Google, HP and other high-profile tech companies. From 1996-2008, James built his story skills as a cinematographer and choreographer at DreamWorks Animation. James also served as a production designer for New York City Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Pennsylvania Ballet.

  3. What Professional Organizations Can Learn from Community Orchestras

    Are professional orchestras pursuing artistic excellence at the cost of a true sense of community? In this blog post, Sam Tepperman-Gelfant argues that professional groups must “take the process of building community as seriously as they do perfecting their performances.” This post is the second of three winning entries from our recent American Orchestra Forum blog contest.

    Sam Tepperman-Gelfant

    Blog contest winner Sam Tepperman-Gelfant

    Community: it’s not just a polite word for amateur, it is the heart and soul of America’s thriving non-professional symphonies. Community orchestras deftly bridge the gap between classical performance and contemporary life that presents a daunting challenge to the future of classical music in this country. Building community is all about building relationships. The web of personal connections among performers, audience members, and the music itself give these groups a consistent energy and audience that many professional groups struggle to achieve.

    I’ve played cello in the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony (BARS), for nearly five years now, and it’s hard to imagine life without it. Wednesday evenings I leave behind the workday to spend time with Brahms and Ravel, and also with my stand partner, David, and the other close friends I’ve made through the group. Many of us haven’t been motivated to practice since high school or college, but the camaraderie and connection (more…)

  4. What do the future of American Orchestras and the America’s Cup have in common?

    The America’s Cup and the American Orchestra have more in common than you might think, as Cheeko Matsusaka explores in this blog post. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, Cheeko Matsusaka currently lives in Sarasota, Florida where she is a cellist with the Sarasota Orchestra. Hers is the first of three winning blog posts from our recent American Orchestra Forum blog contest.

    Blog contest winner Cheeko Matsusaka

    Have we all focused too much on the [America’s] Cup’s proven past rather than understanding its potential? As such, the resulting changes are substantial. It is crucial to end the uncertainty and lay the groundwork for continuity. To put in place a calendar of regular racing; exciting racing that is shorter and sharper and more spectacular. Racing that matches the expectations of the Facebook generation, not the Flintstone generation.
    — Russell Coutts, CEO Oracle Racing

    What does the future of American Symphony Orchestras and the America’s Cup have in common? Aside from San Francisco, quite a lot. I’ve been following the event since the late 90′s and have always felt a strange sort of empathy for the Cup. It seems to share a common thread with professional music’s efforts to honor traditions and still allow the art to grow and have relevance to in a modern world. Both share the potential for breathtaking displays of beauty and power, but suffer from the old stereotype of closed doors and aloofness. Both struggle to dispel those misconceptions without alienating those who already support it. Both are trying to reach out to a new generation by jumping head first into the overwhelming mass of new technologies. The American Orchestra thoughtfully hesitates at this precipice, but the America’s Cup has the taken the fateful leap. I am watching carefully and taking detailed notes. If the planned America’s Cup event can maneuver a safe landing, they will serve as a standard bearer of adaptation and evolution in an era plagued by threats of extinction.

    The thread between Orchestras and the America’s Cup resurfaced when I was having a bit of a disagreement with one of my colleagues. We were talking about a web and Facebook page for the musicians in my orchestra. The colleague thought we should focus our energies on a static webpage and forget about Facebook. He thought Facebook was a fad that would run its course. In addition, he feared we risked alienating people who didn’t do Facebook. Was he serious? (more…)

  5. A New Concert Experience in Chicago

    Mason Bates and Anna Clyne are both Mead Composers-in-Residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (They’ve also both joined us for conversations as part of the American Orchestra Forum.) In Chicago, they curate a program called “MusicNOW” which is experimenting with new ways to present contemporary music. A brochure for the upcoming 2012-2013 season promises concertgoers “the most exciting new music experience” in Chicago.

    Andrew Patner wrote about a recent concert in the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Over the years, a large, youthful and attentive audience has gravitated to these four new music programs… Free pizza and beer after the shows truly seem to be conversation enablers rather than the ticket-sale enticements they started out to be. Literally hundreds of people are in the Harris’ lobby going at it about music, composers and performance for at least an hour post-concert.

    What is Chicago doing to attract this audience? The short answer is (more…)

  6. Live Blog: A Behind-the-Scenes Conversation with The Philadelphia Orchestra

    What follows is a live blog of our behind-the-scenes conversation with leaders from The Philadelphia Orchestra on Saturday, June 9 at 3:00pm Pacific.

    Participants include:

    • Allison Vulgamore, President and CEO, Philadelphia Orchestra Association
    • Jeremy Rothman, Vice President, Artistic Planning
    • Joseph Conyers, Assistant Principal Bass
    • Stanford Thompson, CEO, Play on Philly

    The conversation was moderated by Steven Winn.

    4:32pm Vulgamore: It’s about offering a palette of experiences to give people access to these great musicians.

    4:28pm Thompson: I like to think of giving the audience something to hope for season after season – what will this look like, where are we headed. You have to get excited about the musicians and how they knock it out of the park every night.

    4:24pm Vulgamore: When you’ve lost 40% of your audience – it’s critical that you focus on audience first. Philadelphia Orchestra is going to show the way through generational change and what new financial models for American orchestras will be.

    4:21pm Question: Is cutting musicians’ salaries one way to put more towards education and marketing – if that’s what is needed to be successful? (more…)

  7. The Philadelphia Orchestra – Moving Forward

    For our last conversation of the American Orchestra Forum project we’ll be sitting down with leaders from The Philadelphia Orchestra on Saturday to talk about Audience, Community and Creativity. The orchestra will perform two concerts in San Francisco on their way back from a ten-day “Resdiency and Tour” of China, the first of its kind by an American orchestra.

    Having recently announced (more…)

  8. Event video – Talking About Audiences – Roundtable and Audience Q&A

    One last video from our Talking About Audiences event in San Francisco is now available for viewing — the roundtable discussion and audience Q&A. Recorded May 13, 2012.

    Participants include: Mark Clague, associate professor of music, University of Michigan; Matthew VanBesien, Executive Director Designate, New York Philharmonic; Sunil Iyengar, Director of Research & Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts; Elizabeth Scott, Chief Media and Digital Officer, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts – formerly V.P., Major League Baseball Productions; Brent Assink, Executive Director, San Francisco Symphony; and Steven Winn, San Francisco arts journalist and author

  9. Podcast: Chapter Seven – The View from Cleveland

    The Cleveland Orchestra faces a particularly vexing dilemma: It is one of the world’s great orchestras in by far the smallest market supporting such an institution. This position has opened the organization to new ways of thinking and fresh possibilities for a reimagined future.

    This podcast was developed from our behind-the-scenes conversation with leaders from The Cleveland Orchestra in April 2012 and an interview with Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.

    Chapter Seven – The View from Cleveland

    Play | Download | Transcript


  10. Yannick Nézet-Séguin – Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra – On Audiences

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, talks about Audiences—the importance of continuing to connect with the audience you have and how a culture of innovation honors tradition.