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Focus Group: What Do You Want to Hear?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What type of program would get you to come to see an orchestra at Carnegie Hall - or any venue, for that matter? New York Magazine music critic Justin Davidson joins us for this focus group-like approach to programming classical music - and filling concert halls.

Listeners: Make your voice heard! If you’re NOT the kind of person who goes out to see classical music … what would it take, musically or otherwise, to get you to the concert hall? Or, if you are a classical concertgoer, what would you change about the experience?


Justin Davidson

Comments [24]

Frank G. from Staten Island

More film music from composers like Miklos Rozsa, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Alex North, and even Tangerine Dream.

But also music from the great British composers: Bax, Bantock, Sullivan, Brian, Walton, Moeran, Ireland, McCunn, and naturally, Vaughan-Williams.

Apr. 27 2012 08:41 AM
Deidre from NYC

I would love more contemporary programming by living composers.

Apr. 24 2012 10:34 PM
kevin from upper LS

john, this is one of the best shows ever. and you've done plenty. great work!

Apr. 24 2012 02:58 PM

The basic problem is not programming or price, but the fact that Music is no longer taught in schools nor given the attention it deserves. The NEA has been maligned, individual grants non existent, funding for the arts disappearing and we have created a musically illiterate generatiom that underestimates and undervalues music. They'll pay to play video games that teach killing but music is ignored. High prices are a poor excuse when you consider the amount people pay much more to a concert where musicians scream, break their instruments, and jump and sweat in various states of undress. Other concerts become "smoke and bubble performances" with minimal music. It's a matter of aesthetics and preferences. As the Duke said, there are only two kinds of music - good and bad. We're not giving classical music half a chance any more.

Apr. 24 2012 02:48 PM
andy from manhattan

more volume!!! i find it incredibly frustrating that when i go to see compositions marked FORTE are not loud enough to feel them through my bones. this lack of force from the orchestra disappoints this former rocker/raver whose tastes have grown to include finer fare as well.

some clearly billed full volume/amplified concerts would bring a lot of younger folks to the concert hall - and allow a much more direct connection to the music.

until this happens i am forced to listen to recordings on my home hi-fi instead. anything else disappoints.

Apr. 24 2012 02:46 PM
Jackson from Bronx

Tv shows of the 50's and 60's used orchestral music. The one that stands out is the William Tell Overture for the show the Lone Ranger. A program like this might bring out the "oldies"

Apr. 24 2012 02:39 PM
Eileen from NJ

How about some of the wonderful "new" or "techno" classical
music out there? Composer Johann Johannsson writes a rich,
robust, emotionally accessible music that would be
perfect for a large concert hall.

Always a crowd-pleaser: mashing traditional classical with
appropriate movie scores. Alex North's score to "Spartacus"
and/ or Jerry Goldsmith's score to "Patton" along with
Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky" ("Call to Arms", perhaps?)

Focus on a director who's drawn music from the canon:
Terrence Malick, Stanley Kubrick, Lars Von Trier.

Apr. 24 2012 02:39 PM
kevin from upper LS

a big part of the problem is pretty obvious. it's the elephant in the room. no real public school music programs. where are the new audiences for this type of music, suppossed to come from ?

Apr. 24 2012 02:38 PM
Ralph from UWS

I enjoy much of the classical music repertoire ... but I especially enjoy interpretation of popular music by instruments which traditionally are associated with classical music. Thus, I would find an evening of Gershwin standards performed by a chamber octet (clarinet, oboe, basoon and strings, for example) to be a special treat!

Apr. 24 2012 02:36 PM
Jeffrey from Upper West Side

Some wonderful orchestral soundtracks include: The Natural by Randy Newman, Blade Runner by Vangelis and Dances With Wolves by John Williams. And it should be pointed out that Strauss's Thus Sprak Zarathustra is of course movie music, from 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Apr. 24 2012 02:36 PM
Becky from East Village

Take a classic movie with a great score. Project it on a big white backdrop, and perform all the music live. Do a whole series featuring the greatest movies of all time.

Apr. 24 2012 02:35 PM
Eric from manhattan

Can you speak about "the box" that the Philharmonic will be banging on for Weds performance?

Apr. 24 2012 02:35 PM

No question -- ticket prices are the issue. Look at the turn out for a free concert -- all ages line up regardless of programming. Also the format can be off putting -- 3 hours sitting in silence engaged in a ritual that means little in today's world. It's a major commitment of time for a program of works you're not sure you'll like. Too bad there isn't more flexibility -- a short concert of one work or two short / connected works.

Apr. 24 2012 02:33 PM

I absolutely love orchestral adaptations of popular or rock music. My fiancé and I are not symphony-goers but would go hear these unique pieces.

Apr. 24 2012 02:32 PM
Betsy from Brooklyn, nY

I thought Lincoln Center did it very well with Tullyscope last year - tix were cheap(er), programs were adventurous and daring (I loved the percussion from Strasbourg) and who doesn't like a free flute of champagne at intermission?

Apr. 24 2012 02:32 PM
Andy Teirstein from NYC

How about breaking the stodgy culture surrounding the genre, by mixing it up with music of the people: roots folk music. I've composed a piece for orchestra and a folk guitarist and dancer on stage, a reflection on the relationship between legendary Amrican balladeer Woody Guthrie his wife Marjorie Mazzia, who danced with the Martha Graham Company.


Apr. 24 2012 02:32 PM

As a concert goer myself, I think the single most important thing is not the repertoire (though I do agree that it should be broadened), but the audience experience. We have to manage through break through the brick wall that seperates the orchestra and the audience - have the conductor talk to the audience, encourage applause between movements, etc. Make it a more engaging experience for the audience. Right now the only advantage to seeing a classical concert vs listening to a recording is live sound, and that's not really worth the hassle of dealing with transportation instead of laying around my living room.

Apr. 24 2012 02:31 PM
Zachary from Manhattan

I know it sounds dubious, but orchestral video game scores really can be something to hear. The score to Final Fantasy VII has always been a favorite, and more recently the scores to the Mass Effect series have been epic in scope with a true emotional core. It is the kind of thing I would never expect to hear at Lincoln Center, and I would have to go if not for the sheer novelty/audacity of the program.

Apr. 24 2012 02:30 PM

Anyone in their 20s and 30s who thinks Carnegie Hall tickets are beyond their budget, check out their Notables program for $20 tickets ( Not a bad seat in the house!

Apr. 24 2012 02:29 PM
RWriter from Manhattan

I 'never' pay to hear classical, but I'd fork to hear some of the great soundtracks (Spartacus, Catch Me if You Can, so many others....) live.

Apr. 24 2012 02:29 PM

And: court pop-culture icons to collaborate with classical ensembles. Not just movie scores but figureheads who can help promote. Of course not all such cases will succeed -- witness Rufus Wainwright's godawful "opera" at BAM.

Apr. 24 2012 02:28 PM
Frank Grimaldi from East Village

I think an evening of classical compositions that were later turned into POP songs. I'm sure there are hundreds of songs that were once classical melodies but the two that come to mind are "Lover's Concerto" sung by the Toys and "Could It Be Magic" by Donna Summer/Barry Manilow. (I'm sorry I don't have less cheesy examples).

Apr. 24 2012 02:27 PM
Marie from Brooklyn

One thing would get me to concerts: Affordable tickets. I love classical music, but I can't afford most concerts.

Apr. 24 2012 02:26 PM

Bring orchestras outside of the concert hall. Flash symphonies and spontanenous concerti in public spaces -- with 2-for-1 ticket coupons handed out to bystanders.

Apr. 24 2012 02:25 PM

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