programming in crisis

Holly Mulcahy has a wonderful article up at The Partial Observer about the rash of program/artist substitutions prompted by the funding crisis at US orchestras.  Here at the Oregon Symphony, there haven’t been any mid-course corrections, as such, but guest artists have had their contracts renegotiated at lower rates, and some pieces were not programmed in the first place as they require the hiring of too many extra musicians, which drastically increases the price tag.  You’ll note that we end this season with Mahler’s First Symphony, and might have wondered why we haven’t done Nos. 3 or 6 or 2 in quite some time – it basically comes down to money.  Hence Holly’s article title: Sorry, We’re Fresh Out of Mahler.

a couple good music articles on the web

First, violinist Holly Mulcahy over at The Partial Observer writes an amusing (but very serious) article about behaviors which musicians are apt to endulge in (but shouldn’t), entitled How to Alienate Your Audience in 10 Easy Steps: Musicians.

Here’s a teaser:

An engaged, enthusiastic, and diverse audience is one of the strongest measurements for justifying an orchestra’ value. During my years as a violinist in various orchestras around the country, I have witnessed audiences lose their enthusiasm for live concerts and turn their backs to orchestras as the result of behavior from those inside the ensemble.

Last month’s article showed how conductors alienate audiences through certain behaviors and this month is the musician’s turn. Of course, not every musician is guilty of the transgressions below but they happen often enough that they contribute to alienating an audience, so I’ve created this step-by-step guide to identify the problems along with some practical advice on how to avoid the traps.

1) Never smile.

You are a serious musician who has spent hours honing your craft. Indeed, most concertgoers aren’t likely to understand the full depth of your artistic understanding. In order to make sure they understand this, it is best to project a brooding manner at all times. This is best accomplished by maintaining stoic expressions at all time, even onstage or when the audience responds to a truly triumphant performance with enthusiastic applause.

Granted, it is impossible to maintain a smile at all times during periods of intense concentration but an appreciative audience likes to know you are not pissed at them for showing up and enjoying a concert when they are applauding. It never hurts to remember that no one likes a martyr and you should respond to sincere applause with affirmative body language (yes, even a smile). Continue reading “a couple good music articles on the web”