The State of Art Music

Why are jazz and classical genres having problems?
Why does iTunes excel?
Why do jam bands do well?
Why are recordings difficult to sell?

Why are orchestras such as Prairie Ensemble, Elgin Symphony, and Rockford Symphony doing well?

We need to break out of the tradition of a stuffy classical attitude. Successful ensembles such as the Prairie Ensemble of Champaign-Urbana currently do this.

Some Ideas…

Are classical concerts too long, too boring and too expensive?

Perhaps we need to retrain our audiences – like weight lifting start with small easy workouts then build up length and weight…Perhaps have a musical weightlifting series.

Try shorter, less expensive concerts

Involve the audience

Have a fun theme

Eliminate pretentiousness

Have a ‘dress down’ concert for the audience or encourage it in general


  • This is something I think about a lot.

    I sort of think it is a problem that is really a symptom of the state of the musical literacy level of our society, which is going down all the time.

    I think–at least for our large family–that we would attend more concerts if they were less expensive. We tend to take in one “big” symphony (Akron [OH] Symphony) concerts a year, because we can’t afford the ticket prices for more than that. We’re spending all our money on lessons & instruments for 5 kids!

    We do take advantage of the free options we have: local college programs, “brown bag” series concerts in our area. But when tickets are $20 a person for the symphony, we just can’t do that very often.

    I’ve wondered about having a “general admission section” of cheaper seats, kind of like at baseball games? 🙂 Also, shorter concerts might help draw people in more? What about programs in local elementary & high schools prepping kids for upcoming programs, along with discounted tickets for them and their parents? That would require working with local teachers, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

    Eliminating pretentiousness is always a good thing. But I am also worried about the dumbing down of concerts, too. Hard to imagine a “fun theme” that includes Mahler 9, know what I mean?

  • You raise some excellent points. My goal is not to lower the bar but to raise accessibility – to throw the masses a rope and pull them in – thus educating them and helping classical music and musicians simultaneously.

    And although this may seem temporarily give Mahler a hiatus it should, in the long term, give people a hunger FOR Mahler and the great works.

    General admission is an interesting idea – other countries embrace a similar idea. In Austria, many operas have a standing section in the back that offer a cheap, albeit uncomfortable, solution.

    It is frustrating for me as well to be priced out of many concerts. I recently went to buy opera tickets but couldn’t bring myself to spend $50 a seat for the nosebleed section.

    Thank you for posting such a great comment. I appreciate it and am happy to have people reading my blog!

  • I like the idea of throwing a rope!

    I should mention that we love our Akron Symphony, and even when we’ve bought the “cheap” $20 seats, we are always glad we did. Don’t want to be ungrateful for their great work!

  • I’ve been very happy to find that up here (Alaska) tickets for shows are a lot more affordable than the Baltimore/DC area that I vacated.
    Granted, I don’t think the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra will ever be on quite the same level as the BSO, but they do make themselves more available to the “masses” with cheaper Matinee pricing, and a more laid-back atmosphere.
    While it would be unheard of for some of the larger cities, they even had a petting zoo at one of the last runs…

    Not such a huge deal to drag the kids, when it’s $10 a piece, and you can pet a goat… ;-p

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