What’s Next? Not a happy time for British Orchestras

This is not a happy time for British orchestras.

Local government authorities are slashing their arts budgets by anything up to 100 per cent and managers still await the financial decisions of the newly emasculated Arts Council.

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So “What’s Next” would seem a fitting theme for this year’s annual conference of the Association of British Orchestras, held in Leeds this past  January 23-25.

I wish them all the best.

Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra to present the Music of Western Europe

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The Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra’s “Around the Symphonic World” presents Music of Western Europe on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in Wilson Concert Hall in Lexington Virginia.

Under my direction, the SSO will perform Bizet’s Symphony in C, Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054 featuring Shuko Watanabe on piano, and Mozart’s  Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 with Alicia Bishop as soloist.

Tickets can be purchased online at: http://www.wlu.edu/x57582.xml  or by calling the Lenfest Box Office at 540-458-8000.

The Met sits well in the age of Twitter and New Media

Empty Chairs no more?  It was illuminating, at intermission during the Metropolitan Opera’s opening-night presentation of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” (last) Tuesday, to scroll through comments about the performance posted on Twitter.The presentation on December 17th was the latest in the Met’s line of family-friendly holiday offerings, abbreviated and translated into English for young listeners with short attention spans. The fans are “all-a-Twitter!”

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“The Barber of Seville” Isabel Leonard and Rodion Pogossov star in this production at the Metropolitan Opera House. Photo: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Muscial America Special Report: Use of new media and technology is transforming and expanding audiences

In Musical America Special Report for 2012, much is discussed about the year in review. What is most fascinating are the predictions from some of the big names on music; a symphony and opera CEO, a music critic, a Dean of one our most prestigious music conservatory, a record executive, a fund-raiser, and a musician. There seems to be a common theme no matter who you talk to:  the use of social media, reinventing the concert space, the use of untapped technology.

All these ingenious techniques are there to reach a larger and diversified audience; inclusion is the magic word as was so evident in the recent New Philharmonic’s Philharmonic 360 concert at the Park Avenue Armory; a surround sound experience that draws the audience into a special sensory experience.  We are only limited by our lack of imagination. Fortunately, many Orchestras are embracing the 21st Century performance experience. The use of technology is not a gimmick; it is 21st Century reality.

In this special report, there is an article by Albert Imperato &Jessica Lustig, Founding Partners, 21C Media Group. They predict that the future will bring “new online audience experiences.” They believe that “the growing role of digital technology and the online experience are already having a transformative impact. Webcasting of concerts is an encouraging trend, especially of such big events as the

Philharmonic 360 concert at the Park Avenue Armory in June. There is a massive online audience; in 18 months, 76,000 people all over the world watched a master class by a London

Symphony Orchestra contrabassoonist! We have better tools than ever for finding people interested in what we do, and for delivering the highest quality work to them.”

“Delivering the highest quality work”–to all those who have “technophobia,”we can still deliver a product of immense quality but now we can deliver it to more people. And isn’t that idea of performing, to reach the greatest number of people in an environment in which they feel comfortable and welcome. There is room for everyone around the table. Let’s keep the door open to all and let us continue to find more ways to bring even more people to our table. There will always be room. Additionally, let’s keep our ears open and listen to those who come. Listeners have some fantastic ideas as well.

Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra’s “Around the Symphonic World” season to open November 10

The Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra’s “Around the Symphonic World” season is set to open with Music of Eastern Europe and Russia on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. in Wilson Concert Hall. 

Under the baton of Maestro Barry A. Kolman, the SSO will perform Shostakovich’s Ballet Suite No. 1, op. 84; Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33, featuring Julia Goudimova, cellist; and Goldmark’s Rustic Wedding Symphony. Tickets are required and can be purchased online at http://bit.ly/ssotickets (click on the “buy tickets” button) or by calling the Lenfest Box Office at 540-458-8000.

Bye Bye Birdie–a great success!

Bye Bye Birdie closed last Sunday in Lexington, VA.. I not only conducted the show, but also played clarinet/saxophone in the pit. The performances took place in a 250 seat “black box” making the shows very intimate. We had six sellout crowds for each show. The leads, especially Albert, Mr Macafee, and Rose, stole the show. Because of budget constraints, the pit band contained 12 very talented musicians instead of a full orchestra that the score calls for. I enjoyed the challenge of conducting and playing at the same time; my first time! Though the show itself is somewhat dated, this did not bother the most appreciative audience watching our very enthusiastic and professional cast.