Saturday, March 21, 2015

Calling All Horn Players – Across The Distance

Horn players required for world premiere of a new work from Pulitzer Prize/Grammy Award-Winning ‘eco-composer’ John Luther Adams

At East Neuk Festival on 5 July 2015

The East Neuk Festival (ENF) is sounding the bugle far and wide for a herd (?) of horn players
looking for outdoor musical adventures and challenges in rural Fife this summer.

Following its hugely successful 2013 UK premiere of John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit for 30
percussionists, ENF has commissioned Across the Distance for massed horns for the finale of this
year’s Festival. Led by SCO’s highly acclaimed young principal horn, Alec Frank-Gemill, and seven
other top professional horn players from around the UK, the performance line-up is 32.

Across The Distance will be performed for a promenade audience in and around the parkland and
gardens of the glorious Cambo House and estate situated just south of St Andrews in the East Neuk of
Fife. ENF director Svend Brown enthuses about the prospect of this unique performance: “The idea is
that a ring of horn players will start by surrounding the audience, and as the piece progresses they
move further and further away until the last notes are heard from 50 or 100 metres away... ‘across
the distance’. If Inuksuit was anything to go by, this will be a memorable experience for performers
and audiences alike.”

John Luther Adams is renowned for his large scale works inspired by the environment and written for
outdoor performance, embracing the calls and sounds of wildlife and nature. ‘One of the most
original musical thinkers of the new century’ (Alex Ross/The New Yorker), he recently won the
Pulitzer, William Schuman and Grammy Awards for his work, Beyond Ocean. Adams lives in Alaska and
New Mexico and strives in his work to create musical counterparts to the natural world around him:
“If we’re listening deeply, if we’re listening carefully, if we’re listening with our broadest
awareness,” he explains, “both noise and silence lead us to the same understanding, which is that
the whole world is music.”

World premiere of
     Across The Distance for massed horns in F and in B-flat by John Luther Adams
QUALIFICATIONS minimum Grade 5
AGE no limits either way
26 April 1100-1500hrs Preliminary workshops/auditions, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

27 June 1100-1600hrs Rehearsal, Cambo Estate Fife

4 July 1600-1800hrs Dress Rehearsal, Cambo Estate Fife

5 July 1400-1800hrs Performance, Cambo Estate Fife


Further information: or contact Kate Whitlock at the ENF office

Monday, October 20, 2014

Understanding the Dilemma Orchestras Face when trying to Balanced the Budget

There is more to orchestras balancing their books than just selling more tickets

It is hardly news anymore to hear of an orchestra struggling to balance their budget. Atlanta musicians are locked out for the 2nd time in two years over contract negotiations - the musicians have been asked to take yet another pay cut. The Philadelphia Orchestra declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago. Colorado Symphony has been operating with a deficit for years. These are not isolated examples.

When ever the news reports the demise of an orchestra, there are a half dozen articles that pop up to discussing what changes need to be made in order for orchestras to be profitable again:

- raise ticket prices to cover costs
- lower ticket prices to get more people into the concert hall
- program new music
- program old music
- attract a younger audience
- better leverage the existing audience (particularly the donor base)

The list goes on and on, yet the real problem is: based on the type of orchestra, the cost of putting on a good, live orchestra performance can be quite expensive.  Playing in an orchestra isn't something you can just 'pick up' and start doing; it takes years of practice and education to get good enough to even audition for the better orchestras. Orchestra musicians of the top orchestras in the US are some of the best musicians in the business. A typical orchestra has 80 musicians. Include the cost of the concert hall - orchestras require more space, add to this the time needed for rehearsal of the music, and a single orchestra performance can be considerably more expensive than most contemporary music performances.

It is not possible to just raise ticket prices to cover the cost of an orchestra performance. Classical music is not as popular as contemporary music, so demand for tickets isn't as strong. It is not possible to just raise prices to make more money. Price the tickets too high and the orchestra comes off being elitist; price them too low and the tickets don't pay for the seat the patron is sitting in. For those wanting to raise or lower ticket prices, the question really focuses around trying to maximize profit. Raise the prices too much and the audience won't buy tickets. Classical music doesn't have the demand for pricing that their contemporary artists do. People don't think anything of paying $100+ to get tickets to Pink, Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake, but are seldom willing to pay half that for an orchestral performance. On one hand we think classical music is elitist and yet don't give it the value we give other musical performers.

Lowering prices does not work either. Should classical music tickets should start at $5 to $10 so students and senior citizens can afford to buy tickets? While lower prices might help attract a new audience, the basic math doesn't hold up. If the concert hall seats 1000 people, and the orchestra sold out at $10, they made $10,000. Divide that by the 80 musicians for their two hours worth of work, plus another six hours of rehearsal (80 x [2+6] = 640) and the musicians made just over $15 an hour - and that's not considering ANY other costs for the performance, hall rental, printing of programs, advertising, the conductor, and so on. If you include the time they had to personally rehearse their parts (add 10 hours and most musicians spend a lot more than that) and their pay drops to $6.90. Try and hire a professional in any field for $7/hr and see what kind of quality you get.

Of course, not all seats are priced at $10, and not all concerts sell 1000 tickets. The juggling act is trying to get the right number of high priced seats verses low priced seats (and all the seats in-between). There is also a sense of value that comes with ticket prices. Cheap and discounted tickets can undermine the value of the end product. With "deal of the day" websites like Group On and Living Social, people are always on the lookout for cheap tickets. But, if classical music is to have value in the market, the price of the tickets needs compare favorable with other ticket prices.

Still, very few orchestras performing in the US make enough in ticket sales to cover the cost of a performance. Orchestras get roughly 50% of their income from ticket sales. The rest comes from donations, grants and other sources. Orchestra music is performed not done because it is profitable, but because the music adds something to our lives, to our communities.

So, how do we make orchestras more popular? 

Some suggest orchestras need to program more new music and not keep performing the same repertoire over and over again. While I am a big fan of new music, programming new music is problematic for orchestras. Professional musicians played all the standard repertoire, so programming a Beethoven or Mozart means the orchestra doesn't need as much rehearsal time as they might when playing a new piece by Higdon, Adams, or Glass. Rehearsal time is expensive, as the more time you need to get a piece ready, means more money you need to make at the box office of compensate. More recent music is still under copyright, so performing a piece of contemporary music cost more than performing a piece by Brahms or Beethoven, whose music is in public domain. Orchestras have to consider what music they have in their library, as renting parts can be costly. New pieces also don't tend to perform at the box office as well. While we may have heard Beethoven's 9th Symphony a half dozen times in the past 10 years, it continues to sell well, to fill concert halls every time it gets played. Of course, orchestras can't just play Beethoven's 9th, but if you ever wonder why it seems orchestras play the same music (over 100 years old, the standard repertoire) over and over again, it is because

  1. the standard repertoire does well at the box office, 
  2. music in the public domain is cheaper, and 
  3. frequently performed pieces don't require as much rehearsal.

Unfortunately, this does tend to stagnate both the repertoire and discourage new audience participation. The balancing act here is trying to include enough of the standard pieces to sell tickets, while performing new works (or less popular ones) to maintain a sense of artistic integrity. It is important for artistic planning to understand a programming less popular music in no way signifies the music is somehow less. It just means there is less demand for it at the box office.

So, if the goal is to play pieces the audience recognizes perhaps they should play more film music. Music by John Williams is very popular with audiences everywhere. However, royalties to perform his works can be costly and erase any potential profit from additional ticket sales.

Orchestras struggle with this idea of popular verses artistic. Not all music in the standard repertoire performs the same at the box office. Musicians don't want to play the same music over and over again. Orchestras might want to play the rarely heard Brahms or Elgar, rather than sitting through another rendition of Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff, but the challenging Brahms or the romantic Elgar don't sell as well as the ever popular Tchaikovsky or robust Rachmaninoff. People love Mozart, and somewhat less so Haydn, but try and program a concert filled with Stamitz or Salieri and you'll struggle to give tickets away. For all the fans of Vivaldi and Bach, the prolific Telemann or the talented Couperin are virtually unknown. This does not mean Brahms, Salieri or Telemann should be ignored or that musicians hate playing Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi or Bach. There is a lot of great music considered part of the standard repertoire, and musicians like playing it all. Unfortunately, some composers, some pieces do better at the box office. Programming music has to done with the understanding as to what the music will mean in regards to sales balanced against what needs to be done to fill the artistic need of the orchestra.

The idea of getting a younger audience into the concert hall is nothing new, and every orchestra out there has some program designed to do just this. However, there is also the realization that younger audience members generally don't have the spending capital as their older counter-parts. Plus, much of the established donor base is older. They have reached a point in their life where they have the luxury to give both time and money to the arts. While it is important to bring in new audience members, orchestras can't afford to alienate existing patrons to try and grasp a potential new audience. So, whether the orchestra is attempting to program new music, or create an atmosphere that appeals to the a new audience, it has to be balance this against what their existing patrons want from the orchestra.

One of the problems orchestras face today is the lack of understanding about the very things I am discussing in this blog post. Musicians want to be paid fairly for their work (as we all do). Audience members want cheap tickets and for the orchestra to perform more of the music they want to hear (whether that is new music or the standard repertoire). Because demand for classical music isn't enough to have continual sell out performances, it is necessary to balance all of these concerns.

Types of Orchestras

In the US orchestras come in a variety of different levels (not necessarily based on quality of the musician):

  • 52 week orchestras
    These orchestras perform 52 weeks a year. The musicians are paid a salary whether they perform or not, so it is in the interest of the orchestra administration to have the orchestra perform as often as possible.
  • Pay per service
    These musicians are paid per time they spend rehearsing and/or performing. Typically there is a contract between the musicians (generally the union) and the administration for a rate at which the musicians are paid. Rehearsals are expensive as they generate no revenue, but performances with few rehearsals don't sound as good.
  • Pay to play (volunteer)
    These orchestras ask their musicians to pay a small fee to cover costs of the orchestra. Hopefully ticket sales will make the rest.

Each of these models has benefits and drawbacks, yet each struggle in their own way to balance their budgets.

52 week orchestras - the NY Phil, the LA Phil, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and more - are the cream of the crop. The musicians play together all the time, and are generally paid pretty well in terms of average US wages. Musicians at this level are generally educated to the masters level and may have additional performance certifications beyond their masters degree. Much like Doctors, musicians at this level are constantly honing their craft, 'working' far more than the standard 40 hour work week to maintain their standard of performance. Because they are performing every week -- often multiple performances each week, each with different music -- they have less time between performances to learn new music. While they may have 8-12 hours of rehearsal time per concert, the musicians often dedicate twice that (or more) at home learning their parts, particularly for pieces they have never played before. Add to this their performance hours are not 9-5, but evenings and weekends.

Pay per service are orchestras that don't perform every week, so the administration 'hires' the musicians for when they want to put on a performance. They have a set of standard musicians the administration use with an alternate list of musicians to fill in space as needed. The musicians don't play together as often as in 52 week orchestras, so they need more rehearsal time to achieve quality performances. Many of the musicians have to work other jobs - lots of them - in order to make ends meet. They have to juggle working as teachers or playing in other ensembles with their obligations with the orchestra. And, unless they are a principal chair, they may not play in every performance. If the concert is Mozart or Haydn, the number of musicians needed on stage is much less than if the concert has Mahler, Stravinsky or John Williams. In some respects Pay per service orchestra are easier to budget than 52 week orchestras because administration can plan on the cost of the musicians well in advance. Since rehearsals are paid time for the musicians, Pay per service orchestras have to balance how much rehearsal time the music needs for a performance, how many musicians need to be on stage - Mahler symphonies take more musicians than those of Haydn, but tend to bring in more audience - with how well they think the concert will perform at the box office.

Pay to play orchestras are often the most solvent on the group. If the orchestra does not balance the budget, they either charge more to play or the group stops performing. The balancing act is really based on how much are the musicians willing to pay to play in the orchestra. Because the musicians have to pay to participate, they are not full time musicians, therefore generally not the quality the other types or orchestras get.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Boston Symphony Orchestra Introduces First-Ever Tanglewood Lawncast on July 11

A new technology pilot program offering up to 500 lawn patrons exclusive digital media content while listening to an All-Dvořák program led by BSO Music Director Designate Andris Nelsons

On July 11, during an all-Dvořák BSO concert under the direction of BSO Music Director Designate Andris Nelsons, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will introduce the first-ever Tanglewood Lawncast, a unique, technology-enhanced lawn experience, offering participating patrons access to exclusive digital media content—program notes, performer interviews, and additional camera feeds—via their smartphones and tablets. The Tanglewood Lawncast pilot program will take place on a specifically designated area of the lawn outside of the Koussevitzky Music Shed, with space to accommodate up to 500 patrons with lawn tickets. Patrons interested in participating in the program can register at, with availability determined on a first-come, first-served basis.

July 11 Tangelwood Lawncast program will feature Anne-Sophie Mutter, who joins Mr. Nelsons and the BSO for Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, as part of a program that will also include the composer’s pastoral and tuneful Symphony No. 8, and the rarely performed 1896 symphonic poem The Noonday Witch. Additional dates will be added to the Tanglewood Lawncast program, details of which will be announced at a later date.


Patrons participating in the Tanglewood Lawncast pilot program will have access to two isolated camera feeds—one focusing on the conductor and another on an alternate view of the orchestra—that are part of a multiple camera shoot used to create the concert broadcast that is projected onto the large video screens located inside and on top of the Koussevitzky Music Shed. Patrons will also be able to access exclusive interviews with BSO Music Director Designate Andris Nelsons and guest soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter, as well as with the BSO’s Associate Concertmaster Elita Kang, Principal Flute Elizabeth Rowe, and Cellist Mihael Jojatu. In addition, archival footage and audio and written program notes will be available for this pilot project.

Patrons participating in the Lawncast will be encouraged to post about their experiences on social media before and after the concert and during intermission. In addition to encouraging participants to post on their own and the BSO’s Facebook and Twitter pages, the BSO will set up a special Tanglewood-only CO Everywhere page where patrons attending the July 11 concert can share their experiences with each other. After the concert, Tanglewood will host a post-concert reception and conduct focus groups with those who participated to get their feedback on this technology-enhanced concert experience.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why are people under 40 not in your concert hall?

Symphonies are becoming increasingly aware that the average age of their patrons and ticket buyers are aging, with no real increase in getting a younger generation of symphony goers to replace them. Why??? It comes down to how we communicate with this younger generation.

If your concert hall does not have people under the age of 35, it is because of the culture you have established. They do not feel comfortable in your hall and until they do, they have no desire to attend your concerts.  This is, of course, a generalization, but overall, people under the age of 35 have a few things in common that we need to be aware of in order to effectively market to them.

There are roughly 79 million Millennials in the United States—25 percent of the population. The Millennials exceed the number of Baby Boomers (often their parents) by about 3 million. They have been through two recessions: one at the beginning of the millennium, another in the great recession caused by the mortgage crisis in 2009. These had a significant impact on the financial confidence and trust Millennials give corporations and organizations, which affects how they spend money.

Millennials tend to see themselves as conscientious with their money, making educated purchases and shunning excess. If it isn’t a good deal, they are not interested. 56% believe technology makes them more effective with their time. This group looks for speed, ease of purchase, and efficiency when choosing a shopping destination. Studies have shown that Millennials do not like brands that explicitly “sell” to them; but brands that provide new, robust, relevant information will have more success and create repeat engagement. This generation grew up in a world of choice. They know they have options in every aspect of their lives.

More than any other generation, Millennials rely on each other, sharing opinions with friends to make more informed decisions. They are a very social group. 54% believe technology makes them closer with friends and family. In order to connect to them, organizations need to be social and interactive, not just information vending.

Here are nine reasons Millennials may not be attending your concerts 

Are you online?
Most people under 40 do not remember a time before the internet. They grew up on social media; they are digital natives. The internet is not something they’ve added to their life. It has always been there. For many, it is where a good portion of their life is led. Eighty percent have a profile on one of the major social networking sites. They connect with friends (many they have never met in person), from around the world, they check out restaurants reviews before dining out and likely they are checking out what the internet says about you before buying a ticket. If you are not online – and not just a website – people under 40 will assume you are not interested in their business.

Are you inward focused?
If all your media messaging is spent attracting the people who already attend, then the ones who do not will never be interested.  The younger generations have a reputation of being self-absorbed – half have posted a “selfie” online. They also passionately support causes that inspire them. Over 80% made a financial gift to an organization in 2012. Their biggest discouragement in giving is not knowing how the gift will be used to make a difference. They want to be part of a larger cause. If that’s not you, they will get involved somewhere else.

They do not trust you
Two-thirds of people under 40 say “you can’t be too careful” when it comes to trusting people and are particularly leery of businesses. Only 19 percent felt people could be trusted generally speaking. They are cynical of those people and businesses they do not know. Younger generations will fact check your statistics and anecdotes. This is only made worse if your own facts do not match with other facts you or others have published about you. Inconsistencies scream of dishonesty.

You are not diverse enough
Millennials are the most diverse generation in history and they look for experiences that do the same. More than 40% of adult Millennials are non-white, the highest share of any generation. About half the newborns born today are non-white. If your symphony is not reaching people outside of one ethnic or cultural group, your box office has not hope of reaching Millennials.

You are too institutional
When it comes to institutions, Millennials run the other way. Political parties? Half describe themselves as independents. Marriage? Only 26% of Millennial adults have walked the aisle. Religion? Almost 3-in-10 are unaffiliated. That does not mean they cannot learn to see the benefits of those institutions, but unlike previous generations, they don’t trust them inherently. Symphonies are perceived as part of the establishment, so you will need to break this mold before you can gain their trust.

You focused on Sales, rather than social connection
The younger generations are all about social connections as evidenced by the rapid growth of social media. But they don’t want to see marketing. They prefer to engage with entities they resonate with, so if you are not engaging with them, they are not interested in you. Engagement is not telling them about your next concert; it is telling them why the concert will be interesting. 

Millennials are multi-taskers
This entire generation grew up with MTV, music videos and concerts that were filled with a variety of stimulus. Contemporary music concerts have lights and video, beyond the music. Many also include places to dance and become physically active while enjoying the concert. The idea of just sitting and listening to music is not something that interests the younger generation. If they want to just sit and listen to music, they’ll play it on their iPod or mp3 player. Concerts need to be more engaging, more stimulating to reach the younger audience.

Automated and last minute decisions
Everyone from McDonalds to Goldman Sachs have found that Millennials are not only willing, but more interested in automated transactions. They are comfortable purchasing tickets via websites, including on their smartphones. They are more willing to self-checkout the grocery store than their older counterparts. Many of their decisions are also last minute, wait to see what all their options are before actually making a purchase or committing to an evening’s activity. You need to provide Millennials with a way to purchase online, and if you really want their business, a way to do so up to the very last minute.

You don’t offer real community

They recognize the need to connect, but they’ve chosen to do it through affinity groups and not institutions. Using social media, they have cultivated relationships with people next door and around the world who share their viewpoints and perspectives. They want to have the support of their friends. Seventy percent of Millennials are more excited about a decision they’ve made when their friends agree, compared with 48% of non-Millennials. Connecting with people and products are an important part of their world. 

If you want Millennials in your concert hall you need to start thinking and acting more like a Millennial. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Need for Well Rounded Students

Lou Spisto is at it again, calling for well rounded students

Reblog from: Dallas Daily News

Louis Spisto Encourages Well-Rounded Education for Today’s Students

According to arts advocates like Louis Spisto, keeping arts education in schools is essential to the development of today’s students. Throughout his long career as a producer and arts executive, Spisto has led the development of community and education-based performing arts and theater programs designed to spread appreciation of the arts amongst youth.

Unfortunately, in the era of school budget cuts, arts education is almost always one of the primary targets. Schools nationwide are trimming arts programs, and students are no longer learning to appreciate music, visual and performing arts. This is worrying to Louis Spisto and many others in the art community.

“The argument for arts education is robust for so many reasons, regardless of how strict budgetary limitations become,” says Lou Spisto.

According to a report by Americans for the Arts, arts education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about art education. There are many benefits of instructing students in the arts. Parents, educators, and other community members need to join together and fight to keep the arts in schools.

The Arts Increase Student Potential

All students have the potential to grow and learn. Through their instruction, they are able to identify their strengths and develop skills that allow them to thrive in future endeavors. Unfortunately, many assume that math, science, and language are the only important topics in the curriculum. This is mainly because our educational system spawned from the Industrial Revolution, which placed heavy significance on disciplines that translated directly to the mechanical needs of society. Ken Robinson, British Culture Leader, challenges the way we’re educating in his TED Talk.

Having learned a great deal through his own involvement in the arts, Louis Spisto is an example of how exposure to the arts is critical in education.

Spisto explains that, through his years of community involvement, he has seen how the arts can increase a student’s potential in numerous ways. Engaging in the arts allows students to discover new skills that they may have not known that they possessed. Creativity, problem solving, critical thinking are important lessons that students learn through exposure to the arts–lessons they will carry with them forever. Developing these key skills will help students with the personal and professional challenges they encounter as they grow older.

Studying the Arts Helps Students Develop a Well-Rounded Perspective of the World

Whether learning about painting, theater, dancing or music, children are exposed to new ideas and cultures when studying the arts. They allow for creative self-expression denied to students in other subjects. They help teach new concepts and different ways of thinking. This effects how students think and understand situations from multiple points of view.

Today’s world is becoming increasingly interconnected, thanks largely to the power of the Internet and other technology. But this globalization also means that people need to learn how to interact with one another, and how to appreciate different ideas, beliefs, and values that other cultures may hold.

Studying the arts helps students to become global citizens, rather than just members of their local community. More than any other subject, the arts demonstrate diversity, eclecticism and alternate points of view. Learning these and growing to appreciate them creates a more rounded and tolerant person. Through the arts, it’s possible to gain a new appreciation for the world.

This global perspective can enrich an individual’s life tremendously. Louis Spisto notes that including arts in education is also crucial to appreciate the ways that an arts-focused educational approach can boost professional development.

“Looking at the professional implications alone, theater and other arts can help students to develop into successful individuals who thrive in their chosen field,” says Lou Spisto. “From a communications standpoint, this exposure gives students the ability to understand people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. These enhanced communication skills are what drive teamwork and enable final products to be delivered.”

Studies show that students may actually perform better academically when they are exposed to the arts. The School Superintendents Association (AASA) reports that research is revealing the impressive impact of arts instruction on students’ cognitive, social and emotional development.

One of the most compelling reasons that the arts are important is the ability for students to use the skills they learn from artistic endeavors in other settings. These skills can translate to many areas of life, both personal and professional. And, of course, they can also improve academic achievement.

According to Louis Spisto, another reason it may be beneficial for students to study the arts is because it may help them put ideas into context. Instead of simply learning about certain historical events or ideas, students can study artistic projects that reflect these issues. As such, they can better understand what is taught in history and other classes because they have a way of envisioning some of these ideas in a new context.

The Creative Community Allows for a Deeper Level of Involvement

Art is a community-based field that thrives on collaboration and shared ideas. While some artistic activities can be performed independently, the arts as a whole promotes community. This encourages engagement, and promotes interaction with other individuals.

This interaction can help students better learn about themselves and the world around them. Additionally, it can facilitate the development of communication and other key skills, which help students succeed as citizens of the world.

Students Who Study the Arts Have a Richer Educational Experience

Studying the arts also builds new skills and a stronger appreciation for culture and the world as a whole. It’s clear that teaching the arts in today’s schools allows students to benefit from a richer educational experience.

“Today’s arts education programs are in danger of being cut completely due to financial limitations. Anyone who is passionate about keeping the arts in schools is encouraged to speak up and let their voice be heard,” Lou Spisto says.

ABOUT: Louis Spisto is a producer and arts executive with experience planning and building new venues, as well as leading transformational change for nationally respected organizations. Louis Spisto looks forward to continuing to play a role in the development and success of arts in communities.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Social Media’s Role in the Performing Arts with Arts Expert Lou Spisto

repost from:

While great performers and performances will always be central to why people attend live arts events, experts like Lou Spisto (with nearly three decades of experience in the arts world) believe that social media is becoming an important player for audience engagement and possible growth in overall attendance. Social media’s influence seems to be everywhere and the 2014 Academy Awards may be the boldest example of this to date. Ellen DeGeneres, the host of the show and already a top figure on Twitter, broke new ground with the “impromptu” tweet of her “selfie” that included some of the world’s most well-known celebrities. It generated more than 3 million retweets. She easily surpassed the previous record holder, President Obama, who had under a million.

Although this may be an extreme example of the power of social media and a “live” event, does it auger well for the performing arts? Can social media make the opera, ballet symphony orchestra or theater event appealing to a wider public? According to arts expert Lou Spisto, who has produced for arts organizations and commercial theater, “Social media has become a key component of every arts marketing plan, but the Oscar tweet reveals just how powerful Twitter, Instagram, and the like, can be in creating buzz and relevancy. Aside from the telecast viewers, more people know about the Oscars from that one tweet than all other media outlets combined.”

Spisto stated, “I think that the performing arts benefit from smart use of social media. Arts organizations can foster connections with social media users already interested in their programs, allowing these opinion leaders to become connectors, giving their arts program relevancy to those in their broader network.” Spisto continued, “In effect, the power comes from influencers who create a community of interest based on their credibility. Back in the day it was literally word of mouth; now it’s word of mouth via phone, tablet or laptop.”

Spisto cautioned, “My only concern is that arts marketers are looking for a direct correlation between social media connections and purchase, and involvement may not lead to immediate action. At this stage, fans and friends are not translating immediately to buyers, but as these strategies become more mature and the relationship with the market is better assessed, we can be clearer about the effort and its value. In any event, we need to be here for the long-term, as this will only become more important as we move forward with future generations.” As Chip Michael, Digital Media Manager for the Pacific Symphony in Orange County notes, “the younger generation spends more time on their smartphones than they do watching television, reading the newspaper or listening to the radio (combined). Performance organizations will need to be visible on social media if they have any hope of connecting with the next generation of attendees.”

Social media is playing a role in many areas of art marketing in addition to ticket sales, such as donor solicitations, volunteer groups, fan clubs, education and outreach programs. Performers and other creative artists are gaining more connections and accessibility as they reach out and document their on-stage experience through platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram. Theater and dance are no longer limited to the confines of the stage – social media delivers on-stage and back-stage experiences to audiences across the globe, not just in their town.

Many arts organizations, large and small, have embraced, and achieved success through social media. Chip Michael, notes, “[Social media] allows us to keep what we’re doing in the forefront of the minds of our audience. When we’re preparing for a performance, but not actually performing, it’s important to get buzz going, to get people talking about what’s coming, and to keep people thinking about us and what we do.”

The New York Philharmonic, for example, is sharing their artists’ musical inspirations and behind-the-scenes photos on their Facebook and Twitter accounts to inspire fans to attend upcoming concerts. They have a program called “What’s New” where in one click, a social media user can find out about all concerts, dates, tickets, artists, and anything else they would want to know about the Philharmonic. The San Francisco Ballet has account on social media platforms that include Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and a long list of others to reach a wider and younger Bay area audience that seems a natural fit for this brand of marketing.  Chip Michael continued, “We need to engage with our fans, make them a part of the experience, and allow their thoughts, ideas, enthusiasm and passion for our art bubble out to the rest of the world.”

According to the popular online news outlet, social media is becoming so integral to marketing the performing arts that “in the age of the hashtag, it seems, it’s tweet or perish.”

Lou Spisto is confident that social media will help boost the popularity of live performing arts. “I think the greatest thing about the prevailing use of social media is that it places the artist at the center of the message, and brings a community of users together with what may have been an inaccessible world. The art, the art making, and the artist, are now in the palm of your hand. Literally and figuratively.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Family Day at the Opera

March 22, 2014 | Ellie Caulkins Opera House Lobby

Denver, CO — (February 17, 2014) In collaboration with and sponsored by Arts & Venues Denver, Opera Colorado presents Family Day at the Opera on March 22 at 10:00 a.m. in the lobby of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. This free family performance will feature anabridged production of The Barber of Seville sung in English. Performed by Opera Colorado’s 2014 Young Artists, Family Day at the Opera features the professional production of The Barber of Seville that Opera Colorado takes directly into schools and community venues across the state of Colorado.
Kevin Taylor at the Opera House will offer family-friendly refreshments and snacks available for purchase in the lobby of the Opera House. Family Day at the Opera includes a short Q&A session after the 50 minute performance, along with hands-on crafts and entertainment. Don’t miss this opportunity to bring your whole family to the Opera and experience the joy of live performance in a fun setting.

About The Barber of Seville
Figaro, Figaro, Fiiiiiigaro!!
Barber by day, matchmaker by night, Figaro puts his charm to work as he helps Count Almaviva woo the beautiful Rosina. She’s such a catch that her greedy guardian Bartolo keeps her under lock and key with the intent of marrying her himself. Crazy antics abound and even Berta the maid gets involved. But, no challenge is too great for Figaro’s madcap schemes! Filled with some of opera’s most famous tunes, this is a comedy not to miss!

Jared Guest……………….Figaro
Brett Sprague……………Count Almaviva
Louise Rogan…………….Rosina
Ben Sieverding…………..Dr. Bartolo
Colleen Jackson…………Berta

Directed by Cherity Koepke | Accompanied by Taylor BaldwinFor more information about Opera Colorado’s Young Artists visit

Time: 10:00 AM

Location:  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House is located at 1101 13th Street Denver, CO 80204, at the corner of 14th and Champa Streets. Entrance to the Opera House is at Curtis and 14th Street.

Tickets:  This performance is free to the public, however space is limited and an RSVP is required. To print out your free tickets and RSVP, please visit Eventbrite at the link below. You can also make your reservation by calling Opera Colorado’s Box Office at 303.468.2030. Find out more at Age Recommendation: K – 12

Opera Colorado’s Young Artist Benjamin Sieverding is sponsored by Marlis and Shirley Smith, and Karen Brody and Mike Hughes, and Young Artist Brett Sprague is sponsored by Patrick Spieles and Carol McMurry.  Opera Colorado’s 2014 season is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth T. Barrow, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), Magnolia Hotels, The Westin Hotel, The Edge Restaurant & Bar, The Four Seasons Hotel and Rassman Design, and media sponsors The Denver Post5280 MagazineYellow Scene Magazine and Luxe Magazine.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Arapahoe Philharmonic Showcases Classic Traditions with Brahms and Tchaikovsky

Guest Violinist, Josiah Hamill, Winner of 2014 Concerto Competition

Denver – The Arapahoe Philharmonic presents “Classic Traditions” on Friday, March 14, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. with a program featuring Johannes Brahms’ lush Symphony No. 2 and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, one of the most popular and technical concertos for violin, with soloist Josiah Hamill, winner of the 2014 T. Gordon Parks Collegiate Concerto Competition sponsored by the orchestra. Maestro Devin Patrick Hughes conducts this fifth concert in the Philharmonic’s 60th Anniversary Season at Mission Hills Church, 620 SouthPark Drive, Littleton. Hughes and Charley Samson, Colorado Public Radio classical music host and Arapahoe Philharmonic emcee, will give a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. discussing the program. Tickets are $25 (adults), $20 (seniors), and $5 (students/children) and are available online at, by phone at 303-781-1892 or at the door.

Each Arapahoe Philharmonic concert also provides a Classic Children’s Corner at 7:15 p.m. in the lobby offering a casual introduction of classical music to the next generation of arts advocates.

The Arapahoe Philharmonic’s mission includes providing performance opportunities for emerging talent, and the T. Gordon Parks Collegiate Concerto Competition is one of the ways the orchestra supports young musicians. Named for the founder of the Philharmonic, the competition draws applicants from Colorado and the surrounding states to participate. The top three candidates receive cash awards, with the First Prize Winner also provided the opportunity to perform his or her concerto in a regular season concert. Karlie Denos, from the University of Colorado-Boulder, was awarded Second Prize, and Third Prize went to Luis Salazar from Wichita State University.

Josiah Hamill, the 2014 First Prize Winner, is a violin student of Linda Wang at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. He has appeared as soloist with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and Littleton Symphony and has been a member of the DYAO, DYAO Conservatory Orchestra, Littleton Symphony and Colorado Young Sinfonia. Hamill is a past volunteer member of the Veteran’s Administration National Medical Musical Group orchestra and the Colorado Symphony’s Instrument Petting Zoo event for young and underprivileged children. A member of DU’s prestigious Joint Dean’s List and Hornbeck Scholars, sustaining a 4.0 GPA while keeping a rigorous schedule of classes, Hamill is proficient in violin, piano, and pipe organ, and maintains a piano teaching studio.

About the Arapahoe Philharmonic

Founded in 1953, the Arapahoe Philharmonic is among the longest established, continuously operating musical resources in Colorado. After thriving under just two conductors between 1953 and 2012, T. Gordon Parks and Vincent C. LaGuardia, Jr., we celebrate our 60th anniversary season with an exciting new conductor, Devin Patrick Hughes. The orchestra’s musicians are primarily volunteers playing for the love of music, with a core of compensated section principals who provide technical leadership and support the excellence of performance.

Concerts in our home of Mission Hills Church in Littleton feature repertoire spanning the centuries, from the great masters to composers of the current day. The Philharmonic is invested in future generations, presenting annual children's concerts, sponsoring outreach to schools, and presenting two collegiate-level competitions, the T. Gordon Parks Memorial Collegiate Concerto Competition and the Vincent C. LaGuardia, Jr. Collegiate Conducting Competition.

Massive Mid-Century Masterpieces Link Two Modern Composers: John Cage & Olivier Messiaen Shared Their Piano Cycles in Paris

Dedicated Proponents, Pianists Adam Tendler & Christopher Taylor Will Reveal the Intricacies of These Linked Works in a Pair of Linked Concerts at Jacaranda Music’s February 22nd Mid-Century Modern Program

Jacaranda's 10th anniversary season continues on Saturday, February 22, 2014 with a dinner break — a break that separates the performances of two 20-movement mid-twentieth-century masterworks by John Cage and Olivier Messiaen. Each cycle is played by an American pianist with whom the music has become synonymous: Adam Tendler and Christopher Taylor, respectively. The consecutive concerts (Tendler at 5:00 p.m. and Taylor at 7:30 p.m.) will take place at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 Second Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

Jacaranda’s first decade gave extensive attention to the centenaries of Messiaen (1908-92) and Cage (1912-89). As a nod to that legacy, artistic director Patrick Scott chose for the 10th anniversary two works for solo piano that link the composers after World War II: Cage’s “Sonatas& Interludes” (1946-48) for prepared piano, and Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus” (1944). Both works were influenced in very different ways by the philosophy and music of India. Cage performed his cycle for Messiaen in Paris in 1949, and Messiaen reciprocated with a performance of his cycle by Yvonne Loriod, the work’s extravagantly talented dedicatee, who would eventually become Messiaen’s wife.

Tendler, described as "an exuberantly expressive pianist" who "vividly displayed his enthusiasm for every phrase" by Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed, will perform the 60-minute Cage work at 5 p.m. without pause and from memory. Recognized by the American Pianists Association, Tendler has performed modern American piano music in all of the United States.

After a dinner break, Taylor, bronze medalist at the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and called "one of the most impressive young pianists on the horizon today" by the Washington Post, will perform the two-hour Messiaen work from memory at 7:30 p.m. with an intermission. Taylor’s "...blazing performance of Messiaen's [''Twenty Ways of Looking at the Infant Jesus'']… is likely to stand as a point of reference for many seasons to come," wrote the Boston Globe.

The massive piano masterpiece has additional significance for Jacaranda. Messiaen’s work was the centerpiece of a one-off, three-concert celebration organized in 2002 by series founders Scott and Mark Alan Hilt to observe the 10th anniversary of the composer’s death. The mini-festival’s location was First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, where Hilt would soon be appointed Music Director. The enterprise grabbed the attention of the Los Angeles Times’ Swed, who noted that, while there had been an abundance of Messiaen tributes in the world’s major cities, only the enterprising duo ventured a Southern California tribute. Nine months later, Jacaranda was born.

General admission tickets for either of the February 22 Cage/Tendler or Messiaen/Taylor concerts alone are $35; $20 for students. Admission to both concerts is $60; $30 for students. For tickets and a restaurant guide, as well as special Jacaranda food and beverage discounts, go to Tickets are sold online or at the door. Information: (213) 483-0216.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kronos Quartet 40th Anniversary Celebration at Carnegie Hall, March 28

World Premiere by Terry Riley

NY Premiere by Philip Glass

Special Guests: Bryce Dessner, Wu Man, Jherek Bischoff, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, + Musicians from Face The Music

As a highlight of its 40th anniversary season, Kronos Quartet takes the stage in Carnegie Hall’s fabled Stern Auditorium on Friday, March 28 at 8 pm. The one-night-only concert features a world premiere by Terry Riley, and boasts a stellar array of guest artists. Composer Bryce Dessner of The National will play electric guitar on Aheym, the title piece from his acclaimed new Anti- CD of works written for Kronos. Pipa virtuoso Wu Man, a frequent partner, will be heard in the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s Orion: China. Protean indie-rock composer Jherek Bischoff joins in on electric bass for A Semiperfect Number, which he premiered with Kronos last July at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

Spotlighting Kronos’s commitment to mentoring young artists, the program also includes appearances by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and musicians from Face the Music. Add works by Laurie Anderson, Clint Mansell, and others, and the result is a living snapshot of the ensemble’s singular achievement: “a body of work unparalleled in its range and scope of expression” (NPR). 

P R E M I E R E S   +   H I G H L I G H T S

Terry Riley’s The Serquent Risadrome is his 27th new score for Kronos Quartet, a remarkable collaboration that has spanned more than three decades and resulted in numerous recordings. It takes its title from a “short futuristic tale” he wrote, using mostly made-up words, called The Autodaydreamographical Anteriopod (also the basis for his 2008 work Science Fiction). The Serquent Risadrome was commissioned by Carnegie Hall.

Philip Glass composed Orion for the 2004 Cultural Olympiad in Athens, enlisting leading performer/composers from around the globe to partner with his ensemble. Says Glass, “Orion, the largest constellation in the night sky, can be seen in all seasons from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It seems that almost every civilization has created myths and taken inspiration from Orion.” For the Orion: China section he collaborated with Wu Man, cited by the Los Angeles Times as “the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western world.” Orion: China was subsequently arranged for pipa and string quartet.

In one of the most unusual collaborations of the evening, Kronos will partner with four young string quartets from Face the Music, forming a small string orchestra for Osvaldo Golijov’s arrangement of El Sinaloense (The Man from Sinaloa) by Mexican composer Severiano Briseño. Face the Music is a program of the Kaufman Music Center, where Kronos Quartet in residence this season. It is the only teen ensemble in the US dedicated to the creation and performance of music by living composers.

Aleksandra Vrebalov’s Bubbles is her fourth score for Kronos, and pairs the quartet with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The title comes from a John Cage quote: “Silence. Sounds are only bubbles on its surface. They burst to disappear.” Vrebalov also sets Robert Creely’s poem The Language, which begins with the lines, “Locate I / love you some- / where in / teeth and eyes, bite / it but take care not / to hurt, you / want so / much so / little. Words / say everything.”

Along with Dessner’s driving, intense Aheym and Bischoff’s exuberant A Semiperfect Number, the program is completed by Laurie Anderson’s meditative Flow; film music by Clint Mansell from Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain, which Kronos recorded for those soundtracks; and arrangements of the traditional Scandinavian folk song Tusen Tankar (arr. by Kronos, trans. by Ljova), Syrian musician Omar Souleyman’s La Sidounak Sayyada (arr. by Jacob Garchik), and early blues singer Geeshie Wiley’s 1930 song Last Kind Words (arr. by Garchik). Additionally, a short documentary celebrating the group's history will be screened for the first time, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Green

T H E   P R O G R A M   A T - A - G L A N C E

Kronos Quartet

– David Harrington, violin

– John Sherba, violin
– Hank Dutt, viola
– Sunny Yang, cello

Bryce Dessner, guitar

Wu Man, pipa

Jherek Bischoff, bass guitar
Musicians from Face the Music:
– Quartet This Side Up, Pulsar Quartet, Pannonia Quartet, Face the Music Quartet
Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Dianne Berkun-Menaker, Artistic Director


BRYCE DESSNER  Aheym (Homeward)

TERRY RILEY  The Serquent Risadome – World premiere
GEESHIE WILEY  Last Kind Words (arr. Jacob Garchik)
OMAR SOULEYMAN  La Sidounak Sayyada (I'll Prevent the Hunters from Hunting You)
TRADITIONAL  Tusen Tankar (A Thousand Thoughts) (arr. Kronos Quartet, trans. Ljova)
SEVERIANO BRISEÑO  El Sinaloense (The Man from Sinaloa) (arr. Osvaldo Golijov)
LAURIE ANDERSON Flow (arr. Jacob Garchik)
PHILIP GLASS Orion: China (arr. Michael Riesman) – NY Premiere
JHEREK BISCHOFF  A Semiperfect Number
CLINT MANSELL  Lux Aeterna from Requiem for a Dream (arr. David Lang)
CLINT MANSELL  Death is the Road to Awe from The Fountain (arr. Kronos Quartet)

Friday, February 7, 2014

American Composers Forum Announces Finalists in National Composition Contest

left to right: Michael Laurello, Todd Lerew, Kristina Warren

Three student composers are chosen from 250+ applicants

In partnership with the acclaimed new music ensemble So Percussion, the American Composers Forum is pleased to announce the finalists in the 2014 American Composers Forum National Composition Contest: Michael Laurello (Yale School of Music), Todd Lerew (CalArts), and Kristina Warren (University of Virginia). Each finalist will receive a cash prize and be asked to compose an eight- to ten-minute piece for So Percussion. The resulting pieces will be workshopped with the finalists in residence, and premiered by So Percussion on July 20 at Princeton University, as part of the So Percussion Summer Institute 2014. One of the works will be chosen to receive the final prize, which includes an additional cash award and future public performances by So Percussion.

The National Composition Contest is open to composers currently enrolled in graduate and undergraduate institutions in the United States; this year’s installment drew more than 250 applicants from 39 states. Each finalist receives an award of $1,000 plus an additional stipend of $750 to help defray expenses associated with attending the workshop and studio performance. Along with further performances of his/her piece, the winning composer will receive an additional $2,000.

“The Forum is thrilled with the opportunity to connect new voices with extraordinary ensembles like So Percussion,” said John Nuechterlein, Forum president and CEO. “Similar to our previous collaborations with eighth blackbird and JACK Quartet, the discovery process is exhilarating for the performers and immensely rewarding for the selected composers. The So Percussion Summer Institute showcase is also an exciting new twist that offers an exceptional opportunity for the composers to network with a large community of performers.”

Says Adam Sliwinski of So Percussion, "The American Composers Forum competition offered So Percussion a chance to reach out and find exciting young compositional talent. We expressly requested to judge blindly, and the three finalists all caught our ears in unique ways. There were so many excellent submissions. The ACF has established a wonderful precedent for a competition that is favorable for everybody involved, and we're ecstatic to get three new pieces out of it!"

The competition began during the 2010-11 season as the Finale National Composition Contest, partnering with the group eighth blackbird. JACK Quartet was the ensemble for 2011-12. The competition went on hiatus last season, returning in September 2013 under its new name, the American Composers Forum National Composition Contest.


Michael Laurello (b. 1981) is an American composer and pianist. He has written for ensembles and soloists such as the Yale Baroque Ensemble, Sound Icon, the 15.19 Ensemble, NotaRiotous (the Boston Microtonal Society), guitarist Flavio Virzì, soprano Sarah Pelletier, pianist/composer John McDonald, and clarinetist and linguist/music theorist Ray Jackendoff. Laurello is an Artist Diploma candidate in Composition at the Yale School of Music, studying with David Lang and Christopher Theofanidis. He earned an M.A. in Composition from Tufts University under John McDonald, and a B.M. in Music Synthesis (Electronic Production and Design) from Berklee College of Music where he studied jazz piano performance with Laszlo Gardony and Steve Hunt. He has attended composition festivals at highSCORE (Pavia, Italy) and Etchings (Auvillar, France), and was recently recognized with an Emerg ing Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation (Boston, MA). In addition to his work as a composer and performer, Laurello is a recording and mixing engineer.

Todd Lerew (b. 1986) is a Los Angeles-based composer working with invented acoustic instruments, repurposed found objects, and unique preparations of traditional instruments. Lerew is the inventor of the Quartz Cantabile, which utilizes a principle of thermoacoustics to convert heat into sound, and has presented the instrument at Stanford's CCRMA, the American Musical Instrument Society annual conference, the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition at Georgia Tech, and Machine Project in Los Angeles. He is the founder and curator of Telephone Music, a collaborative music and memory project based on the children's game of Telephone, the last round of which was released as an exclusive download to subscribers of music magazine The Wire. His solo piece for e-bowed gu zheng, entitled Lithic Fragments, is available on cassette on the Brunch Groupe label. H is pieces have been performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Wet Ink Ensemble (New York), the Now Hear Ensemble (Santa Barbara), and the Canticum Ostrava choir (Czech Republic).

Composer and vocalist Kristina Warren (b. 1989) holds a B.A. in Music Composition from Duke University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition and Computer Technologies from the University of Virginia. Recent works include Three Sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (soprano, electronics), Folk Studies No. 1 (Up in the A.M.), No. 2 (Vimeda Sakla), and No. 3 (Shousty) for voice-based electronics, and Pogpo (electric guitar quartet). Warren’s research interests include voice, electronics, and questions of aleatory and performance practice in conjunction with various non-Eurocentric musics, such as folk music and Korean p’ansori. Warren’s compositions have been performed across the US and in Europe, and she has been fortunate to study composition with Ted Coffey, Judith Shatin, Anthony Kelley, Scott Lindroth , and John Supko.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Yo-Yo Ma Applauds Oscar Nomination of Morgan Neville’s Documentary 20 Feet from Stardom

Boston, MA – Jan. 16, 2013 – Delighted to hear of the Oscar nomination of Morgan Neville’s documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma said: “What I love most about 20 Feet from Stardom is how deeply Morgan Neville examined the preconditions of creativity. He showed us how the giants stand on the shoulders of the artists whose stories he told."

Morgan Neville is currently directing The Sound of Silk, a documentary about the musicians in the Silk Road Ensemble. Brought together by the Silk Road Project, which was founded in 1998 under the artistic direction of Ma, the Ensemble has featured members from more than 20 countries, performed in 119 cities in 30 countries, generated more than 80 new works, recorded 60 pieces of music, and just released its fifth CD, A Playlist Without Borders.

The Silk Road Ensemble: Ascending Bird

For further information about The Sound of Silk, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pershing Square Foundation and other contributors, please visit the Silk Road Project at (