Latest Posts From Evan Tublitz

avatar Evan Tublitz is a registered piano technician and owner of the Used Piano Center in Mechanicville, NY (www.usedpianocenter.com). With 39 years of experience in the field, he is a specialist in European pianos and concert preparation and has pioneered techniques in achieving world class performances on everyday pianos. He trained at the factories of Ibach, Steinway, Yamaha, Petrof and other piano manufacturers and has worked with numerous prominent concert artists including Andre Watts, Earl Wild, Mstislav Rostropovich, Marilyn Horne, Jean-Pierre Rampal and many more. Tublitz is on the Board of Directors of Troy Chromatic Concerts, Inc. With a serious interest in musicianship and musical practice from mid 19th to mid 20th century, he collects and studies historical recordings of pianists and other instrumentalists and orchestras. Tublitz welcomes questions about pianos, which he will answer on his Hudson Sounds blog. Send your questions through the comments field at the end of his posts or contact him by phone at 518-664-4367 or email at usedpianocenter@gmail.com.

January 28, 2014 - 1 Comment

Creative Expression — How do Artists communicate their message?

by Evan TublitzAs a sequel to my last blog on pianists creating sound images and pure emotions from their instrument, I have been pondering the value of all the Arts and the process of creative expression in different media. Clearly, there are tremendous similarities of creative thought processes that are expressed in the ‘plastic’ arts of music, visual art, dance, theater, literature and film.

What strikes me, foremost, is that each artistic expression in any medium is an attempt to bring the ‘audience’ to a different perspective of viewing life through the vehicle of the subject at hand. Generally, the artist is expressing both intellectual and emotional concepts that are often restricted by the spoken or written word by moving us into ‘another’ world. By creating a pastiche of emotional and intellectual ‘images’ through their art, the artist juxtaposes often conflicting ideas to illuminate a different way of ‘seeing’; thus opening up new vistas of understanding in the audience.

I find it fascinating how an artist frames an idea and communicates it to an audience. A musical composer creates a musical phrase to elicit a specific emotional reaction; while the intellectual idea is developed by the context of the whole piece or section. The dance choreographer does that by creating a specific movement and frames it in the context of the whole piece or section to create a persuasive intellectual/emotional amalgam. The potter forms a shape in clay and then glazes the piece to bring out specific ideas he/she wants to express. The painter/visual artist selects a subject and then realizes it to create a whole concept, which is comprised of many smaller parts that, like the musician, elicit specific emotional responses in juxtaposition of color, shape or content.

One very interesting artistic expression is found, most notably, in photography but also relates to both film and literature. A photographer has a very unique position in that all of the work is predicated on the ‘point of view’ – the actual location of the lens of the camera that guides us to the creator’s perspective and intent. The photographer is truly a ‘voyeur’ of life; watching life as it develops and focusing our attention to see different perspective than what is on the surface. In this ‘new’ perspective, the artist leads us to see something that was within the event that we may not have seen.

With words, writers often do the same thing by creating a ‘vantage point’ (position of the reader observing the events unfolding) from which to observe the events,  in order to focus on a particular perspective – much like the photographer. The visual artist/painter does much the same – this time by creating the ‘vantage point’ by context, choice of subject and perspective. As in Haiku poetry, each line creates an image that, when taken as a whole, develops the whole context and ultimate message. However, often, the painter has a similar problem as the musician or dancer. Sometimes he/she must create the whole ‘world’ or context first before placing their actual ‘statement’ within it. The writer tends to do the same by placing the reader in a ‘vantage point’ to observe and then ‘unfolds’ the context or ‘world’ around the reader – not unlike the process of the photographer.

In music, the ‘world’ must be created to develop the ‘vantage point’ or position of the listener in order to develop the appropriate ideas and feelings in the listener. The context is the frame for the point or message the composer is expressing. In literature, theater and film, there is much similarity to music by establishing context in the narrative and have the audience come to the realization of the message of the writer as the work progresses. However, ‘vantage point’ can also be established much like a photograph right from the start — but not always. In dance, the ‘vantage point’ is often developed from the audience’s position as the ‘voyeur’ of the events taking place; however, the true context is often developed and not always evident from the start as with other creative expression. Once again, it just ‘unfolds’ as the audience discovers the message in the greater context of the events. Lest I ignore creative endeavors like architecture and the decorative arts whose context is clearly more apparent from the start, the viewer is stil ‘lead’, yet again, to the perspective or message the creator wants to illuminate.

What sets the creative Arts apart from other human expression is that we are dealing in the world of non-verbal communication – EVEN in literature as the words are just the vehicle for thoughts and feelings! We humans use different tools: sounds, words, visual images, movement, ideas and more; to create feelings, thoughts, images, and ideas in the audience to communicate the particular message the creator wants to share. The intent is to inform, cajole, move and open the audience’s mind and perspective to seeing the world in a different light than before. That is the role of the Artist as Philosopher — to draw new perspectives on life to cause others to think and evolve further and then, hopefully, to pass on this knowledge to others.

Art IS solely communication. Without the creator there is no Art and without someone to view or receive the Art, it has no purpose. Just like the famous tree falling in the wood with no one around; if there is no audience to receive the message, there is no COMMUNICATION and therefore the Art is useless without that connection. The audience actually gives Art its very life by consuming it and interacting with it.

Remember, the Audience is as important as the Artist and without that communication the tree in the wood does NOT make a sound! Ideas become alive when they are received and communicated!

Stay warm in this frigid month!

January 7, 2014 - 0 Comments

Thoughts on Pianos and Music

by Evan Tublitz—This morning, I was listening to two monumental piano recitals by two immortal pianists — Claudio Arrau and Sviatoslav Richter – Arrau in Lugano on May 20, 1963 and Richter in Moscow on January 10, 1962. These two entirely different pianists had incredible overwhelming virtuosity and yet completely different temperaments.

Claudio Arrau bio:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudio_Arrau
Sviatoslav Richter bio:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sviatoslav_Richter

Arrau Recital: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pVVu5btIrw
Richter Recital: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYgCJMfFf9M

What strikes me is that both artists bring a huge variety of color, sounds, emotion and expression to the same piano in one evening. Sometimes, one wonders if they are the same person playing or using the same instrument. Chameleon-like, they alter their demeanor, their expression, their emotions to the style of each piece and to their own individual conception. Sometimes, each pianist whispers gently with different manner depending on the context and emotion conveyed and, at other times, roars intensely yet, again, different depending on the emotional landscape.

What surprised me, especially in the Richter recital, is how at times in some of the Chopin, he is completely engaged, involved and heartfelt particularly in the Polonaise-Fantasie Op.61; and then seems to throw off a detached performance of the Polonaise Op.40 No.1. Later, returning to the Liszt Vallée d’Obermann, he brings such achingly heartfelt melodies and tone as well as thunderous octaves.

These musicians bring so much more to the the piano than just music, the pressing of keys and the development of sounds. Instead, often, I refer to such masters as alchemists who conjure up sounds out of the piano that directly speak to the listener on the emotional level  in context of the musical narrative. The sounds have an other-worldly, ethereal quality that when formed within the context of the piece, create a soundscape that brings us to another place and transforms our surroundings to a magical locale where new vistas of human experience are exposed.

It is this shamanistic transformation of the piano into a ‘magic carpet’ that allows the performer to carry us away to their personal human conception of the feelings contained within the music. The piano ceases to exist and the sounds and feelings envelop the listener and becomes more about color, feeling, movement, drive, and finally, illumination. Many I fear, hear the music, watch the performer and in so doing, fail to go to the ‘other side’ with the performer to that place where sounds become wishes, dreams, sorrows, joys and take actual physical form.

Yes, I am waxing poetic but, at the same time, making a very serious point. The performer AND the instrument are truly secondary to the ideas expressed in the music. And those magnificent ideas are often expressed as pure emotion. One cannot listen to a hair-raising movement of a Prokofiev piano sonata without being, at times, frightened, agitated, driven and overwhelmed to the last note!

Sergei Prokofiev bio:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Prokofiev

The music can unleash a force, albeit emotional and intellectual, that captivates, sweeps one away and brings new understanding. As I have said in the past, music brings a deeper understanding of the human condition and creates new meaning to our place in the cosmos.

I am reminded of a drawing of a grand piano with sweeps of different colors emanating from its innards — flying out of the lid like a storm! It is this magic that the pianist/performer must create and, in order to do so, they must find within themselves all elements of the ideas contained within the composition. Like a shaman, it is incumbent on the performer to become those ideas and emotions with which to carry the listener to this ‘new world’ in sound.

Leon Fleisher, in a video of a workshop at Carnegie Hall for musicians, stated that his teacher, Artur Schnabel, always said you must HEAR what you want to play BEFORE you play it because if not, it will only be a ‘happy accident’ if it comes out as you wished it. Performances are NOT to be happenstance but truly designed and planned by the performer after having explored all the possibilities of interpretation of the composition. After having explored all options prior to performance (often done over a long period of study and practice), the performer arrives at an utterance of ‘their’ understanding of the piece but ONLY as the culmination of their life experience up to that point. Interpretations and performances evolve over a lifetime.

Fleisher and his colleagues in that workshop, Yo Yo Ma and Pamela Frank, all spoke about the performer’s need to be three people. Person A : Who hears the music in their head to determine how to present it; Person B: Who actually performs and listens both to Person A and Person C; and Person C: Who must separate themselves and be apart from both in the Hall to hear and ascertain how the music is being presented and received and then bring back to the performer (Person B) feedback if the music is not aligning with Person A’s conception. This is no small feat and incredibly difficult to do. Much easier to be Person A and B but all three is virtuosic in itself!

Leon Fleisher Workshops at Carnegie Hall:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYgCJMfFf9M
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlpSwgDLbTM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMJ_XvzAR10

So, to paraphrase a famous phrase:

In the beginning there was the MUSIC, and the MUSIC was with the composer and the MUSIC was the composer. Then, the performer was transformed by the MUSIC and was moved to communicate the MUSIC to others. The performer took THE PIANO and transformed it into a device to translate the MUSIC into thoughts, emotions and ideas. The listeners were then transformed by the combination of the performer and the instrument and found their way back to the beginning………………the MUSIC!

When next you go to a concert, allow yourself to be ‘taken on a journey’ instead of just listening to the beautiful sounds and watching the performer playing the instrument. The piano and even the performer are secondary, as Leon Fleisher said, injecting your ego into the music is just that: Ego – Not Music! Let the sounds inspire thoughts and feelings and create that ‘new world’ where the player and the instrument fall away. You might be surprised how your experience might turn into a Technicolor event not unlike Disney’s Fantasia! Moreover, you may just discover that the music has made a lasting change on you rather than just being a momentary pleasure.

Don’t miss  Andre Watts with the Albany  Symphony at the Palace Theatre and Jonathan Biss this weekend at Union College!  See you there!

October 21, 2013 - 2 Comments

Thoughts on working on a Steinway Concert Grand in a Famous Concert Hall

by Evan Tublitz—In mid September, I had the honor of spending 2.5 days at the venerable Troy Savings Bank Music Hall performing the major concert service on the Steinway model D 9′ Concert Grand.

What most people might not realize, periodically a concert piano needs to have both the action (touch) regulated and hammers resurfaced and tone regulated (tone).  These critical procedures greatly improved the performance of the instrument and take up for the wear and tear of concert use.

While these adjustments are very involved, time-consuming and require meticulous attention to small details,  there is also an ‘art’ to selecting the appropriate voice of the instrument and balance between sections of the piano.  In this case, the piano was becoming uneven in tone, brittle in both the treble and bass;  and the touch was also becoming shallow in the middle – where the bulk of the playing is done.

After assessing the things that needed to be done,  one of the most important procedures is to re-seat the strings on the bridge since the hammers are underneath the strings and play up and drive the strings upward under hard blows.  Over time, the strings tend to slightly (1mm)  ‘ride’ up the bridge pin and no longer contact the bridge and the pin solidly.  This makes for a shallower tone that is, by nature, a bit more strident while playing havoc with tuning stability.  Re-seating both bridge pins and the strings on the bridge rectifies both issues.

Another issue many do not know is that Steinway piano hammers are made to be ‘hardened’ with a thinned lacquer solution.  While this creates a stronger tone in the felt-covered, maple-core hammer, it also can bring some stridency and has the characteristic of hardening over time as well as moving in the hammer felt.

Remember, on a fortississimo blow (FFF and more) the hammer can be driven 1 3/4″ of travel at an amazing 120 miles per hour! At that point, many different things are happening including the hammer shank ‘bending’ and the solids in the felt being driven at such force that it migrates towards the crown of the hammer.

Hammers are actually made by gluing 100% fine wool felt onto a wood molding under extreme pressure clamping in hydraulic press machines that create both compression in the felt and tension as well.  It is this blend of characteristics that create the typical functionality and tone of the piano hammer.

As in a new tennis ball, the hammer actually bounces off the strings and imparts an equal amount of energy back into the hammer, thus pushing back off the string.  If the hammer loses its ‘bounce’, like an old tennis ball, it lays more on the string and has less drive and projection as well as dampening some of the string vibrations!  The sole job of the hammer is to start the string vibrating and then get out of the way as fast as possible!

I believe in a resilient hammer that operates MORE like a SUPER Ball — more ” Boing “  more transfer of energy!  When lacquer or chemical hardeners are used, it hits harder and absorbs less of the energy but also creates a less resilient hammer (compare a Super Ball to a Bowling Ball).  The former makes a loud BOING sound that carries while the latter makes a bigger splat sound initially but then dies faster.

Fascinatingly enough, when releasing some of the compression that was built into the hammer felt by the hammer press,  one can restore that ‘resiliency’ and get a ‘bouncier’ hammer.  An interesting side effect of this is that, with special needling to release this compression, the key will actually repeat faster without any adjustment to the key action!!

Back to the Steinway Concert Grand at the Music Hall, one of the interesting side effects of working with pianos is that some respond to the proper procedures (that we do to all pianos) better than others and one cannot predict the final result.  In this case, my procedure is always to do trials to ‘fix’ the worst notes and see where things might ‘end’ up.  But, as with this piano,  I was completely surprised as it kept growing and growing in power, tone and richness beyond my projected expectations.

Working on a piano like this is truly a tedious process of adjusting many small things to lay the groundwork for the end results.  Each procedure tends to build upon the last as if one is ‘coaxing’ the piano to come out of its shell, stand up straight and sing strongly and beautifully.  Like a human,  when all things are in alignment, working in tandem with all the other components of performance technique (the mechanism),  the piano responds and becomes a completely different animal and reveals a truly different nature.

I must say it can be very grueling and tiring work;  as one must focus with both eyes, ears, hands and tools to hear, see and feel infinitesimal differences in adjustments.  However, it also is unbelievably gratifying when the piano ‘arrives’ into its new voice and touch and becomes way more expressive than it was!

Maybe that is why some people have called me a  ……………………………….. Piano Midwife!

Yesterday, I was fortunate to hear the Albany Symphony Orchestra with Music Director David Alan Miller perform AARON JAY KERNIS- THREE FLAVORS FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA (WORLD PREMIERE) with the magnificent Andrew Russo as piano soloist (click here for more info on the Albany Symphony Program).

This is a wonderful new work by a well known composer who writes with complexity, virtuosity and a range of colors for the orchestra.  The piano part was extremely difficult and virtuosic and the piano showed the range of timbres and expression that was the goal of all my efforts.  Both Mr. Russo and Maestro Miller expressed to me that the piano was even, had power and projected well in that demanding piece. I must say that I have never heard the Albany Symphony Orchestra sound so well  and was impressed by the fact that they changed their sound to complement each composer’s piece.  They clearly have worked so hard under Maestro Miller’s direction to become one of the great American Orchestras!

It is a joy to work hard to be able to provide great artists with a larger palette of dynamics for expression and deeply gratifying to me………..it IS what keeps me going through the moments when I am struggling to make an instrument its best!

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any piano questions.

www.usedpianocenter.com

usedpianocenter@gmail.com (more…)

September 7, 2013 - 0 Comments

Local Volunteers Dedication to Landmark Concert Series

by Evan Tublitz—As many of you know, I am one of the Board of Directors of Troy Chromatic Concerts, Inc., the renowned classical concert series entering its 117th Season at the venerable Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. This year, as in other years, we are bringing world-class talent to Troy:

Of course, we hope you all will come and enjoy such wonderful musical offerings this season.

What prompted me to write this blog was the incredible amount of work that many local presenters do to present wonderful cultural offerings to the residents of the Capital Region. In our case, at Troy Chromatic Concerts, Inc., from the first concerts or ‘musicales’, in private homes to the concert series of today, the aim of ‘Chromatics’ has been to bring musical programs of the highest caliber for the enjoyment of local audiences. Organized in 1894 by students of Troy music teacher J. Albert Jeffery, The Chromatic Club presented its first concert to feature pianist Edward A. MacDowell, an artist of world renown, in February of 1895. It was an enormous success and inspired the continuing commitment to present the finest artists of their time.

What many do NOT know, is that such an endeavor has virtually been undertaken and kept alive solely by dedicated volunteer music lovers who have been on the Board of Directors and have selected and engaged the artists, rented the concert hall, done the promotion and raised funds to provide for such a concert series to exist for 117 years. More importantly, all monies collected are expended solely to bring the best concerts to our area! This is no small task and has many myriad of details that need to be performed to realize just ONE concert! Most people might not understand the inner workings of what is necessary to present a concert, so I thought it might be illuminating to describe the process.

To develop a new season of concerts, Troy Chromatic Concerts, Inc. (TCC) must decide what artists they might like to present and contact their management to book them. This process must take place at least 2 years in advance as many artists are booked sometimes 6 or more years in advance depending on their notoriety and schedules. The process of booking an artist is not without much communication back and forth as to available dates, program, specific requirements and, of course, fees. Many things have to be worked out ahead of time and contracted. Once a contract is signed, it is binding and usually the presenter may not cancel unless some act of God or Emergency or War! This means that the presenter GUARANTEES the agreed upon fee to the management company (artist representative) regardless of ticket sales, weather, and other unforeseen events. Many people are NOT aware that often hiring a major world famous symphony orchestra can cost $65,000. And more BEFORE other ancillary expenses.

Once all the artists have been scheduled, fees and requirements negotiated, the presenters must then confirm that the hall we rent is available for those dates and then contracts get signed for both the concert artist and with the hall. Many people think it is all settled and all you have to do is show up and smile, but actually, that is when the real work begins. Promotion must be determined, advertising materials printed, program notes written, mailings done to get subscriptions, and many more details need to be arranged at significant cost.

Few people realize that each artist or in the case of an orchestra, has complicated travel arrangements and all must be coordinated with the presenter who acts as host to the artists. Often, lodging and food must be provided as per the contractual arrangements and other details as well. If there is a piano involved, it must be rented, the piano technician hired to tune and prepare the piano as required in the contract. Lest we forget, there are the important details of stage hands, ancillary equipment or instruments that need to be obtained – incurring yet MORE costs!

In the case of the upcoming concert of The Knights, a harpsichord is required for both the Bach and Haydn pieces. We were fortunate to locate a harpsichord to rent from noted harpsichordist and musicologist, Dr. William Carragan. Not only has he consulted with the artists to determine the most appropriate historical tuning for both pieces, he has donated considerable portion of the cost of rental, moving and tuning services to make this possible, and we thank him deeply for his commitment to the Arts.

Most people forget that accounting and state and federal requirements bring yet more costs to operating such a concert series. One has to file appropriate tax documents, deal with the legal matters professionally, maintain a bulk mail permit, maintain appropriate liability insurance, have proper accounting, office and not the least, also pay for fees from music licensing organizations like ASCAP and BMI. Another complication is hiring foreign nationals that may bring complex tax and immigration issues into the mix. Yes, all this adds thousands more in expenses to a presenting organization, and we have NOT even had a concert yet!

Unbeknownst to many, the season subscriptions play a crucial role in supporting the organization as it provides the working capital for the year in advance of the first concert to pay for the considerable expenses that must be borne to promote the season. Without a good subscription base, we then must rely on private and public donations. Sadly, public funding has been drying up for the Arts and we are having to rely on private donors and corporate support. In times of difficult economy, those funds become less available as well, so ticket sales are more vital than ever to defray expenses. PEOPLE OFTEN FORGET THAT THEIR TICKET OR SUBSCRIPTION IS NOT JUST ENTRANCE TO A CONCERT BUT A WAY TO SUPPORT AND INSURE THE FUTURE OF A VITAL CULTURAL ASSET !!

I am deeply in awe of some of my colleagues on the Board of Troy Chromatic Concerts, Inc. because they have had given of themselves for decades and even two and three decades and more! These selfless people have volunteered YEARS of their personal time and donated significant funds to insure that TCC brings top name classical artists to the Capital Region. While most concert series have some type of paid staff to take care of the hundreds of details to present a successful concert series, TCC is unique in that all the people doing the work have been volunteers throughout its 117 years of concerts! I salute our current Board of Directors :

Karl Moschner, President, Mary Ann Willetts, VP, Jill Nagy, Secretary/Publicity Chair, Elissa Prout, Treasurer, Tracy Killeen, Artist Selection Chair, Ronald Geuther, Membership Chair, David Grimm, Finance Chair, Paul Sulzmann, Historian/Program Notes, Gregory Anderson, Publicity, Lesli Hardwick, Hospitality, William Jones, Education, Bruce Zeisel, Rebecca Mondore, Publicity, Andrew Mondore, Helen Bryce, Virginia McNamee, and Bernice Bornt Ledeboer and of course, myself, Evan Tublitz, Education Chair.

Special appreciation to former Board members Joseph Erkes and Ursula MacAffer for their invaluable contributions!

When you go to any concert, be cognizant of all the effort it takes to bring such cultural treasures to the area. Remember that, besides those who volunteer and work to present these events, it is YOU, the audience, who has the most important role – not just to buy tickets, but to ensure the future of these events by making a donation to offset the cut-backs in public funding and increasing expenses! For those who already do, we presenters thank you for your support and commitment and for those who have yet to do so, PLEASE consider making a donation to KEEP THE ARTS ALIVE!

See you on September 29, 2013 at 7:30PM at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall for the incomparable chamber orchestra, The Knights for a varied program highlighting many forms of the concerto grosso!

April 6, 2013 - 0 Comments

Thoughts on promoting Classical Music to new generations

by Evan Tublitz—As many of you know, I am one of the Board of Directors of Troy Chromatic Concerts, Inc., the renowned classical concert series in its 116th Season at the venerable Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Each year, we grapple with the problem of bringing new audiences to hear great classical music. We, like most classical music presenters, are faced with the same vexing and complicated problems.

The traditional classical music concertgoer is aging – look around you and you will see more gray hair at a classical concert than at most other concerts. This is due to the fact that, in previous times, classical music was the staple music of those who supported all the Arts – museums, dance, theater and the like. This is due to the synergy of both exposure and education creating an ‘elite’ group of those who would consider themselves ‘cultured’. Enjoying classical music, having been founded and established in courts of Europe, always was a way one could ‘show’ their sophistication and culture. While there was ample popular (indigenous) music, the music of the royal courts was mostly classical in genre.

The United States, a conglomeration of European expatriates, always had a sense of cultural ‘inferiority’ due to the ‘new-ness’ of its society. Historically, we always tended to look back to Europe for the best of cultural expression, art, furniture, etc. As our country developed, we tended to build upon these European cultural traditions until the turn of the 20th century when we developed a new music that was TRULY American – Jazz and Tin Pan Alley. This was a totally indigenous American music which was an outgrowth of the expression of the emotions of the common man. Cutting across traditional societal lines, this music appealed to all.

As American popular music developed through to WWII, there became more and more interest in the indigenous ‘folk’ music of the South as an offshoot of the culture of the slaves and traditional blues expressions in various parts of our country. This interest blossomed mainstream after WWII transforming the songs of the 50’s into rock n roll and then further into integration of many different styles of blues, rhythm and blues, rock n roll, and then on into the fusion which we today call contemporary popular music. These popular ‘soundtracks’ of people’s lives became identified with important events in their lives and became imprinted deeply within them.

This emotional attachment to the music of ‘our lives’ — much as the Italian-American has a natural connection to the Tarantella, the Polish-American with the Polka, etc. – has moved the average person away from a ‘personal’ relationship with classical music. Hence, it is easy to understand, as evidenced by the myriad of choices available to everyone through the internet, that regionally specific musical expressions have become easy to obtain and therefore more commonplace. With more choices comes fragmentation of the ‘market’ and therefore, each genre of music loses some of its market share to others due to the availability of more options and choices. Remember, when we had the ‘Big Three’ TV networks solely, they captured almost all the market share of TV viewing. Now, they have lost significant share to all the other options – Cable, PBS, Independent, Sports and beyond.

I just read a wonderful article in the Boston Globe about a new refreshing way of promoting classical music. :

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/04/05/the-millennial-generation-flat/ESaAtILcCMWVVfCa8eSkTM/story.html

A young man, Sam Bodkin, 23, is on a mission to save classical music from itself. “The bureaucracy is incompatible with what classical music needs to do in order to rekindle and reconnect, especially young people. If there is a solution to this problem it’s got to come from the generation it’s trying to engage.” He, bringing a youthful, contemporary spin to classical music events, sponsors social events with classical music with food and drink for his peer group.

In an interview in New Zealand, noted American conductor, David Zinman, recounted a question to his son about why he doesn’t go to his Dad’s concerts. His son said none of my friends go because it is too stuffy and besides it starts too early! So his father started a series of concerts aimed at the younger generation starting at 9:30PM with the musicians dressed casually instead of formal attire.

In a recent meeting regarding marketing our series to younger audiences, it was observed that many people do not ‘come’ to classical music until their 40’s (50 years ago, it was in their 20’s) and often were not ‘dyed in the wool’ classical music aficionados. Therefore, they like more than just one genre. It is very common for one person to enjoy Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes AND also Mozart and Beethoven!

We must open up the concert hall experience for classical concerts to be more inclusive, more open, more fun and more interesting to younger audiences. One great treasure in our area is Maestro David Alan Miller of the Albany Symphony who has brought standard classical repertoire, new contemporary works AND his Cowboy Dave (Young People’s Concerts) as well as the Dogs of Desire (contemporary genre band) to bring a more ‘open and flexible’ appreciation of music.

Music should be FUN and often it is far more fun to go to a Springsteen concert or a Big Band concert than to go to a classical concert! Is it because classical audiences do not jump up and dance with the music like they do at other concerts? Remember, we are in the 21st Century, and societal mores have changed.

In the 17th & 18th centuries in European Courts, you did not utter a word and stood at severe attention out of deference to the sitting royal dignitary present. This was behavior expected of the audience. This ‘stiffness’ transferred to classical concertgoers in the 19th and 20th centuries as some sort of expected audience decorum. However, in today’s world, people have many options for musical experience. If fun is removed from one option, they will gravitate to the others where it is more enjoyable.

While I am NOT advocating we scream and yell and sing along and dance to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, I do think we MUST be cognizant that PEOPLE and SOCIETY have changed significantly and therefore we might need to adapt. Firstly, we might hold classical concerts in non-traditional venues with less ‘traditional expectations’ of audience behavior. Secondly, we might consider that traditional interpretations might be ‘contemporized’ a bit (more engaging) for our younger audiences. Thirdly, we might seriously notice that fusion (blending of styles and genres) has proliferated in nearly every aspect of popular music and there should be more of that in classical music as well.

IMPORTANT WARNING NOTE:
I am not advocating throwing out the traditions of classical music, performance practice or instrumentation! Instead, I am suggesting that we may be more open to INVITING our younger generations to explore classical music by making it more appealing especially in their first exposure to the genre. As with Sam Bodkin, who heard Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge and was hooked; once younger audiences have had a positive experience, they will become comfortable with classical music form. Then, a typically traditional classical concert will ‘make sense’ as they have learned the ‘vocabulary’.

It is my hope that this will provoke many discussions and much thought in our region and I hope that we will all become ambassadors for an art form that brings our society much needed balance in a troubled world!