Musically speaking: performers lure new listeners with informative talks

Posted on: October 14, 2014

In Thursday’s (10/9) Houston Chronicle Steven Brown previews a Houston appearance by pianist Jeffrey Siegel, who “crisscrosses the United States evangelizing for classical music” with his Keyboard Conversations concert series. Siegel remembers a listener who congratulated him after a recent concert with, “ ‘Hey, Beethoven’s not that bad!’ … Siegel counts that backhanded compliment as a victory: One more listener took a step closer to Beethoven…. Before playing pieces like Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, he will tell the audience what makes them unique and compelling. As classical music groups contend with their art form’s marginalized place in U.S. society, they increasingly marshal their performers to do what Siegel does: usher listeners into the world of music with informative patter.… Even the most successful musical groups face a challenge from audiences’ changing habits, said Jesse Rosen, president of the League of American Orchestras. Fewer concertgoers buy season tickets; instead, they lean toward last-minute single-ticket purchases, forcing groups to put more effort and money into advertising. Regular concertgoers often become donors so their importance goes beyond immediate sales, Rosen said.” The article notes other Houston ensembles that offer concert talks include the Houston Symphony, Apollo Chamber Players, and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.

Posted October 14, 2014