Adapting to broader cultural shifts, orchestras change the face of classical music

Posted on: October 17, 2014

On Thursday (10/16) on Al Jazeera America’s television program “America Tonight,” Adam May notes that at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, “Enrollment has dropped slightly, as has attendance at symphony orchestras across the country. To attract bigger audiences, many orchestras are changing the way concertgoers engage with classical music: adding videos, celebrity appearances or even mixing in more popular music. In June, Sir Mix-A-Lot performed with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. In September, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra announced it would be ditching its tuxes and tails. This week, Ben Folds performed his pop piano ballads with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra…. ‘Part of what’s been happening is our whole culture has been changing. People are really wanting to consume, to engage, in very different ways,’ said Jesse Rosen, president of the League of American Orchestras…. Conservatories, including Peabody, have tended to be ‘very conservative places and very, sort of singularly focused,’ said Fred Bronstein, who just took over as Peabody’s dean following a six-year stint leading the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. But Bronstein wants to change that. In St. Louis, he helped revamp the orchestra’s marketing and branding campaigns,” and has convened a symposium at Peabody entitled “What’s Next for Classical Music?” to be live-streamed on October 21; Rosen, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop, and others will appear as a panelists.

Posted October 17, 2014

Pictured: Sir Mix-A-Lot performs with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Ludovic Morlot, June 2014. Photo by Ben Van Houten