Saturday, January 31, 2009

Richmond Symphony Goes Sweet and Low

The Snob hasn't seen the letter from Richmond Symphony about changes for the next season that Clarke Bustard describes over at Letter V, but that won't keep her from sharing a few uninformed opinions!

  • Switching Monday night Masterworks concerts to Sunday afternoons: EXCELLENT! Given the move back downtown, this makes much more synergistic sense, since area restaurants and galleries can be open before and/or after the concert.
  • Cutting Friday night Masterworks concerts: UNFORTUNATE! but undoubtedly fiscally prudent. Or else the CenterStage operation has dibs on Fridays for other events. But RSO patrons are high-frequency events attenders, and taking away one of their options will more often force them to choose between Masterworks and Modlin, Masterworks and the Rennolds series, or any other one-time event that falls on a Saturday night. The Symphony holds the weak hand in this showdown, since it's "always here." Sunday afternoon will be an option for some, but not all patrons.
  • Creating a Saturday morning series of educational concerts, called "Lollipops.": STOMACH-TURNING! With a name like that, the RSO is staking claim to the 3- to 5-year-old demographic, which will expect actual lollipops to be distributed at the event. If the point is to create pleasant associations between the symphonic experience and sweet treats, why not something less infantile? The Bundt Cake Concerts. Soda Saturdays. Breath Mint Family Music. Sure, "Kicked Back Classics"--which this series replaces--was physically not so smooth to say, but it conveyed the spirit of the concert without limiting the audience to people so young they'll call it "Wah-wii-pops."
Gripes aside, I'm glad to see that RSO is continuing its outreach to family audiences and trying something new.

Although I don't know whether concerts by its 4 youth orchestras will be back downtown or in area schools (as they have been--and which might not be a bad thing to continue) I hope at least a few are held in the Carpenter Theatre.

The youth orchestra/family education program has sometimes seemed like an afterthought of the RSO--at least from a promotional standpoint. But young musicians attract and hold the attention of young people with a power that adult musicians--no matter how much more skilled--just don't have.

There are more changes starting with the 09-10 season--maybe they'll be posted on the RSO website soon.

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