Friday, 9 April 2021

A better symphonic future


How can we make orchestral concerts more interesting and more attractive for contemporary audiences and especially, for younger generations?

It is not easy, because most of the music performed in concert halls requires sitting still and focussing attention upon what is being heard. But yet, there are ways that invite enthusiastic exploration:

– making the symphony orchestra more relevant to modern times, through relating it to social justice problems, anti-racist initiatives, the needs of immigrants and refugees, and the plight of women of any culture and ethnicity;
– reshuffling the repertoire away from the canon and include more music written by women, blacks, members of suppressed minorities except the talented, Hispanics other than De Falla, and more modern works which audiences can recognize from the cinema and the pop music of their children;
– creating special series with sound art for audiences who wish to better connect with the misery of modernity, combined with medical and psychiatric help on the spot;
– making the concert experience more interesting by adding visuals like big video screens with appropriate movies, or real time views of players and audience members in close-up, or real time views of the foyers, or streets surrounding the concert hall; or combining the performance with ballet dancers, acrobats or mime performers;
– changing concert behaviour ritual into something closer to contemporary life experience: jogging attire instead of evening dress, chatting during the performance, free admission for toddlers and babies, the freedom to walk in or out a performance, and eating, drinking and discussing the music while it is being played;
– extending the concert experience with restaurant facilities, swimming pool, a corner for computer games, a supermarket for biological food, a shop with symphony merchandise, and a sporting hall with the appropriate machinery.

No doubt many more people than ever will want to be introduced to this noble musical tradition, and the art form will be preserved for the future, including its star performers.

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