Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brief encounters

Last night the Columbus Symphony performed a pops concert entitled  Chairman of the Board: A Salute to Frank Sinatra.  As I approached the Ohio Theatre before the concert, I struck up a conversation with a couple of audience members who happened to be entering the theatre at the same time. 

The woman asked when Albert-George Schram would be back.  Maestro Schram, a member of the Columbus Symphony conducting staff, is a frequent and popular conductor of our pops concerts.  I said that we were all looking forward to George's next concert, and that I wasn't sure exactly when that would be.

Then I decided to segue into a delicate topic.  I offered the notion that Maestro Schram would undoubtedly be conducting some of our Picnic with the Pops concerts next summer, in our brand new venue in the new Columbus Commons Park.  I asked if the couple would be attending Picnic with the Pops in our new downtown venue.  (The reason this is "delicate" is because some of our Picnic with the Pops fans are understandably wondering what the series will be like in its new urban environment.)
Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion in Columbus Commons Park, future home of  Columbus Symphony Picnic with the Pops
The woman replied that they didn't think they'd be coming downtown because they preferred the old location.  I decided to try to talk them into it, since clearly they were already comfortable with attending concerts downtown.  I assured them that the symphony was going to do everything possible to make the new venue at least as appealing as the old one.  I guaranteed that if they tried it, they'd not be disappointed.  They ended up saying that they'd give it a try.

As we parted ways, the man said, "Thank you for talking to us."  I was embarrassed that apparently, in that couple's experience, it's unusual for a musician to interact with a concert goer.  The symphony would not exist without the audience, and in fact I had said that when they initially seemed surprised that I spoke to them. 

Besides, I was presented with an opportunity to win over a couple of audience members for the new downtown summer pops series.  I know that our management is working very hard to convince the public that the move will be a positive one.  But management didn't happen to be there last night outside of the Ohio Theatre.  I did happen to be there, and I think it's wise for musicians to take advantage of any chance encounters which might present themselves, for the sake of preserving our own livelihood.  We are the orchestra's ambassadors.



Unknown said...

Dr. Schram is in town this weekend conducting the Lynn University orchestra in our performance of Beethoven's 6th and 5th symphonies. I actually just played principal bassoon for the first time on 6th and contrabassoon on 5th. I'm sure Dr. Schram will be back in Columbus soon! Your blog has always been very informative and made me think about what it means to be an orchestral musician, so I find it very amusing that we have this connection through Dr. Schram. I only wish you would post some more bassoon related stuff more often to keep us dorky bassoon nerds satisfied! :)

Thanks for all of your posts!

B.S. said...

Joshua, thanks for your comment. It's great that you've been working with Dr. Schram. And I promise I will post more bassoon nerd material soon!


Andrew said...

I'm surprised by the little interaction there is between orchestral musicians and their audiences. More importantly though, I'm encouraged to find that your reaction, upon coming to this conclusion too, was to change that.

Thanks for posting this!

B.S. said...

Thanks for your comment, Andrew. Let's hope that musicians will recognize the benefit of connecting with their audiences, even spontaneously.


Bryan Cavitt said...

My son is the principal bassoon for the Elkhart County (IN) Symphony Orchestra and Saturday night they played a concert of movie and broadway tunes at our newly remodeled theater in downtown Elkhart. He is normally a quiet person, but several concertgoers approached him after the concert as we were leaving and said how much they enjoyed the concert and how greatful our area had a symphony orchestra. He opened up to them and talked several minutes about how great it was to play with the Symphony and how thankful he was to have such an appreciative audience. Your topic was mostly timely.

B.S. said...

Bryan, that's incredible that your son had an experience similar to mine, and on the same night, no less! I'm willing to bet that he welcomes his next opportunity to interact with the audience.


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