Music Composers Unite!
I have been to countless numbers of recitals, concerts, and performances. Though majority of them were very good musically, I have noticed is that there is no real consensus on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable when organizing a concert. This is especially true, it seems, for composers.
As composers we deal with more performers, more equipment, and so many other things beyond just the music. So what are the do's and don'ts of putting on a concert?
Here are some question that one might ask themselves when during the process of putting on a concert;
Answer those you have an opinion on.
During the Concert
After the Concert
Are there anything else one should think about?
Excellent list. Another broad point: worth thinking about how many of these points to agree on in advance with performers and others, and whether those agreements should be in writing (especially any that might otherwise be a surprise, like an agreement to pull a given piece if it's not up to your standards -- which means considering how to articulate what those standards are).
These are my initial reactions to your list.
If they are to be paid, most of your questions will be included in what they require. You can check with the local musicians union to get an idea of what they can/should expect.
If they are volunteers, you should probably make sure at the very least that it doesn't cost them anything to help you.
My feeling is that if they aknowledge you, it should be from the stage with you in the audience. If there are multiple works, or the concert is all your music, then an appearance at the end of the program would be appropriate.
Musicians should be responsible for any equipment they would normally use. (Gutiar player his own amp, etc.) You should be responsible for anything extraordinary. (Prepared piano, etc.) Make sure you have permission for any alterations to instruments or facility before you do it!
Some of these questions will be answered by the venue you use. If you are paying for it, they will have guidelines for what you will have to do and what they will do.
Attire will be a reflection of the concert. If you want formal, than it should be formal. (If the concert is entirely your production, than you can make that decision.)
You should provide some type of program for your audience. Include any notes regarding your music that may interest them. They want to be involved with the production as well, and knowing some of your insights into your music will help them.
Again, the venue may have people assigned to these various tasks. Checck with them. If not, get a friend that you trust to work as a stage manager. (Better yet, find a stage manager with a local theater company. They already have experience in production flow.
Try to program the concert so there is minimum set up time during. A quintet can be set up to the side and the percussion set up can be pre set on the other side. The key here is planning, but make sure the program makes musical sense. (Don't do your "star" piece first, and go down from there!)
If the entire program was your music, then a stage appearance would be alright. If it's along with others, perhaps all of you together.
Personally, I would try to arrange a reception for the performers and audience after. This will give the audience a chance to meet you and more importantly, it's a great networking event.
If the performers were paid, that's their thanks (Sorry if that sounds bad, but that's why they did the performance.) If they were volunteers, I think dinner or perhaps a later reception just for them.
Didn't mean to get this long winded. Hope it helps.
I finally got around to answering my own questions, well some of them. Im going to answer questions that I have strong opinions on.
The latest that is acceptable is 3 week. Even if the music is perceived as "easy", the latest that is acceptable is 3 weeks prior to the concert. Ideally it should be at least 2 months prior to the concert, but if all things fail and you have no other option, then three weeks. Anything sooner than three weeks should not even be considered
Ideally dinner, if you can't afford that or unable then a thank you note and I personally would give a gift. (thats what I did for all the performers on my recital since I couldn't get them all in one place to thank them).
Though ideally this situation should be avoided, I know from having to do this at least twice in my compositional career so far that sometimes this is not avoidable. When you find yourself traveling with unpaid performers you are responsible for paying for their hotel, other expenses (such as registration if needed and any other expenses that pertain to the concert, festival, or competition) and at least a dinner as a thank you to the performer(s).
The acknowledgment should be made from the audience. Your performer should gesture towards the audience after they take their own bows, you as the composer should just stand and acknowledge the applause. Keep in mind most performers are not use to this and its up to you to inform them on how to do this.
A stage crew is a must. You alone cannot mange all of what need to happen backstage on your own and still produce a quality concert.
Dress rehearsal should be scheduled for the TWO days prior to the concert. This is especially true if their are electronic elements in your concert.
If a piece isn't up to your standards you should replace it but only if their is ample time to do so, if not remove it from the program and during the concert make an announcement that that piece will not be performed. Do not go into detail as to why its not going to be performed.
Yes, they should go up two week prior to the concert. Any later and they might be missed by people, any sooner and they might get ignored or covered up by other posters and flyers.
If the concert is a very laid back concert then "sunday's best" (button down shirt and slacks). Any other concert they should wear either Business Attire or Concert Black. As for the composer, you should wear Business Attire.
Yes, they should contain a over-view of the concert and program notes. A bio is nice but optional.
Doors to the hall should be open 15min prior to the concert.
During the Concert
In the audience.
Recital Crew should be responsible for removing disruptive audience members.
Late arrivals should only be allowed in during the applause of a piece.
All solo pieces should be at the beginning of the concert with larger pieces towards the end.
You should allow at least 1 mins to set up the stage. To ensure this will happen, rehearse setting up the stage during your dress rehearsal.
If you know a piece will take longer than 1 min to set up, plan a slight pause or intermission. You can indicate this by announcing it before the concert, writing it in the program, or bringing up the house lights to indicate to the audience that the set up is not part of the concert. Remember, they came to hear the music you wrote, not see the stage crew set up instruments.
After the Concert
If its a concert of all your own music, you take the bow from the stage.
I'm a strong believer in having a reception, of course if you can't afford one or if the venue you have your concert doesn't allow for one then of course don't have one. The food served at a reception should be all finger food. The only utensil that should be used is a tooth pick. A light colored punch should also be served. Keep in mind that most of the people at the reception will be standing while they eat as well as talking so keep the food light and mess free.
The composer should be the last one to leave.
If you are not pleased with the performance it doesnt change how you treat your performers after a concert. Address what you didn't like at a later date if you need to, or simply do not ask said performer to perform anything else of yours. DO NOT address the performer at the concert or reception about your discontent of his/her performance.