Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

PROMS PLUS is the best bit of the Proms September 1, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews — concerttuning @ 11:33 am
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Proms Plus: Family Music Intro

The BBC Proms has developed a series of introductions to its evening concerts. The Family Music introductions are aimed at young people, but this does not stop people of all ages attending. While aimed at newcomers, I suspect that many a seasoned concert attendee does and should attend.

The idea is to introduce the works, players and background in a fun and lively manner, so that you can then go onto listen to the main concert better informed. It is an ideal time for families at 5.30pm, as they can come straight from school. However, I saw many a family did not stay for the evening performance. The Proms plus is enough of an event in itself – you get to hear all the best tunes, the funniest facts about the composers and even play along with the professionals. What else would you want? Plus it is more intimate as you can get up close to the players and it is less overwhelming then listening to a full orchestra. It makes you question why you would want to go to the main concert, especially as Proms Plus events are free.

I attended the Family Music Introduction to Proms 44 on Wednesday 18 August. Fraser Trainer presented the concert/talk in an informal and humble manner with 3 members of the Russian National Orchestra – a violinist, flautist and trumpeter.

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An Alternative Way: The Night Shift May 30, 2010

Some music organisations are already leading the way in presenting the concert in a different format for example the The Night Shift series by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

It still offers a live experience of classical music, but in a slightly altered format. There are some key aspects that make it more appealing to a broader audience.

  1. Late start of 10pm Cooler like a gig. Different event and audience to the earlier one at 7.30pm – high proportion of young people in the foyer.
  2. Could take drinks into the auditorium – this is usually not allowed in auditoriums while it is common practise at gigs, jazz clubs etc.
  3. Pre-concert live band Though some concerts have pre-concert talks and workshops it is quite unusual for a non-classical pre-performance to take place. This acknowledges the fact that classical music fans don’t just like classical music. It makes the evening more a appealing to one who is unfamiliar with classical music as they are slowly introduced to classical instruments in a format that they are probably more familiar (band in a bar) and then go onto the hard core stuff during the main concert.
  4. Spoken word Presenter on stage who introduces the pieces, interviews the musicians and asks for demonstrations = very cool, assumed didn’t know very much about music and nicely broke up the concert with dialogue. Casual way of talking – called people by their first names. Flautist introduced rest of the woodwind section by their first names – felt like a friendly family. Celebrity appearance of Goldie to reinforce the fact that cool people attend classical concerts.
  5. Alternative programme notes Explains exactly what and when everything happens during the course of the evening.
  6. Audience behaviour Presenter informed audience at the beginning when to clap – this helped break up the symphony, as we clapped between the movements. Also had cheering and wolf whistles from the audience. People laughed at the boring bassoon part. Whispers towards end of concert. Encouraged to get up and get drinks during the concert. Problem as hard to leave seat without disturbing people.
  7. Interactive Imaginative feedback forms – had to write one word to describe how the concert made you feel. Gave audience members cameras to document the evening – later shared on flickr. Audience member to be voice for podcasts. Conventional feedback forms -but chance to win free tickets.

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