Happy April!Tonight we move our clocks ahead an hour and I can’t tell you how symbolic this is for me. I feel like we are moving fast-forward-full-speed-ahead into another season at Ravinia Festival. That means one thing; winter is over! (Crossing my fingers it doesn’t snow at the end of April.)For those of you like me, Ravinia is synonymous with summer. It’s a tradition. It’s the light at the end of the dark, winter tunnel. I remember getting so excited to see the announcement of the season in the paper before I became a part of the Ravinia staff. Memories of sitting on the lawn and listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or Celia Cruz or Bonnie Raitt always reminded me why I love summer at Ravinia.Now it’s weird being on the other end of the schedule and being a part of the team that actually gets the information out to the public. I don’t get the surprise element of seeing the calendar as a whole along with everyone else. I guess that does take away part of the excitement. However, I still think about how nice it is to drink wine and picnic outside while listening to great music. Plus, I get the inside scoop before anyone.I feel like I’m getting performance jitters, even though I’m not performing. Does anyone else get that “rush” before the start of a season? I think part of those jitters is just hoping that everything goes off without a hitch. I’m sure we all dream of wonderful performances, high ticket sales, rave reviews and big success stories. In reality, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes of any arts organization. The challenge we all face (and the reason this site even exists) is getting people just as excited for classical music as they do popular music. What else can we do to get the younger audience in to fill the seats? We started the “Full House” initiative last year, which was very successful. The surveys we conducted all showed positive reactions from first-time patrons. While seeing a classical concert might not be at the top of a young person’s “To Do” list, I think that a lot of people would enjoy it more than they would expect. The problem is getting them out to experience it and discover that for themselves. From the thunder of the full orchestra or the softness of a soloist, the experience is really magical. Then again, you know that. How do we convince others?
My inbox has been filled the last few days with emails about an article published in the Sunday New York Times arts section by Barbara Jepson.
The article talks about some recent and exciting developments in the use of digital downloads for some of our major record labels and orchestras. Yes, the ubiquitous ipod and itunes have finally begun to register with the decision-makers in the classical music world. My question is, “What took you so long?”
Here’s what I don’t understand. When television was widely introduced in the 40s and 50s, people wondered if it would supplant radio. It soon did. When cable television entered the scene in the 1970s, people again wondered if it would catch on. By 1990 over 50 million homes had cable.
Remember when people questioned if the Internet would become pervasive? The widespread use of the net is just a little over 10 years old now and the rate of adoption of this technology is nothing short of breathtaking. So what’s all the fuss about?
The fact is, the classical music field is coming late (though better late than never) to the use of digital technology. Does anyone share my amazement (and amusement) that it took a computer company, Apple, and a renegade website, Napster, to lead the recording industry into a new mode of operating?
Seriously, what were the leaders of the recording industry thinking as they fought against the most efficient music distribution technology ever devised? And what are the leaders of the classical music world thinking when it takes them years to figure out what should have become apparent four to five years ago?
This technology enables us to sell and distribute the music we love to almost anyone, anywhere, in real time. Let’s try leading the way in the future instead of coming so late to the dance.
So here is this week’s question: What other technology can we use to help promote the music we love?