Music Composers Unite!
Think of the last time you went to a classical music concert? How was it--not the music itself but the experience of going to the concert. One can surmise a few things about your concert experience:
These are just a few things one probably did at any given concert. But there were probably things you didnt do as well. Things you didnt really pay attention to:
Again the list goes on. This 'sit down, shut-up, listen, leave' method of concerts have been now the standard for over 100 years. As composers, if you want a piece premiered by a ensemble or musician, this is the atmosphere your music will be premiered in. For 90% of us concert composers this is the only way music is presented to the public. However, a new alternative seems to be taking root.
Groupmuse is a social media based site in where performers are put together with, not concert venues, but living rooms (like YOUR living room) for small very personal concerts. These concerts are open to the public and members of the site look for concerts near them and show up. This is by no means a new concept. Chopin preferred his music to be performed like this in Salon concerts. The only difference now is that any one and everyone can do this (well almost the site is still new and its mostly in big cities at the moment)
Here is the website
and a little bit about them in the press:
Now I am not endorsing this just yet because I don't know if this will work out. There has been a lot of buzz in the classical music press about how this will save classical music, but classical music institutes have been mute on this subject. Classical institutions are also very very slow to change and are rather stubborn. There is also an age and location bias almost built into this site--20 somethings that live in highly dense cities. These concerts are also almost invisible which for those performers and composers who are starting their career is more of a detriment than a blessing. Though performers are paid in these concerts, they lack the reach many classical music institutions have in the music world. You are not going to get a glowing concert review from NPR, Wall-Street Journal, or even the local paper by playing in Betsy and Bob's living room. But maybe that will change in time.
What do you think?
Is this a good idea for composers to premier music in living rooms? Is this a good idea for classical music or just a passing fad?
Attending a premier or any concert in a private home is far and away more attractive to me than the concert hall. The personal connection makes all the difference, I think. I would imagine it feels more rewarding and "human" to the musicians as well. Though I'm sure there's differing perspectives.
I am very keen on the idea, but haven't personally attended such a performance.
However my song cycle Night songs was premiered in such an environment in a living room of a music interested doctor in Vienna, which I found very suitable for art songs (with the heritage from Franz Schubert's days and all and the tradition of Lieder as household music and all). I was not able to attend though since Vienna, Austria is quite far from Mönsterås, Sweden where I live.
I think it is generally a very good idea for chamber music to revisit these concert settings, since it is just that - chamber music - not least because it brings the attendandees and the performers closer together. I have personally experienced singing art song programs in churches and concert halls without getting any respons from the audience afterwards, not even when I have greeted them farewell at the door sometimes, and I think it is very much the place itself where the concert has been held that makes them unconfortable to come forth and speak afterwards. I think that would be much easier in a living room or smaller venue.
@Lennart, I interprate your comment about it being not so good to actually hold the premier in the home environment as a suggestion that it might not be as good for commercial purposes as holding the premier in a concert venue, but I don't believe it will make much difference which performance is held where, I think that any performance is good for your music and should not be disregarded of. Most pieces don't get actual performances anyway, and any audience is a good audience in my book. I want my music to be heard, regardless of who hears it or where, and because of the enhanced possibilities of getting to actually speak to the audience in a smaler venue, I think it might be quite the opposite, that a smaller venue will be even better, since you will then immidiately get to know what worked and what didn't for future performances as well.
I like the idea of Groupmuse but I sometimes I feel that there is a location bias. This is enhanced as there isn't much on the site about underage performers. In most small towns, high school age performers are the only performers of classical music. I know parts of west texas where the high school band concert is the only place to hear classical music for the next 200 miles. If someone was to start a groupmuse community, underage performs is going to be the place where the majority of performers are pooled. This could bring up a lot of unforeseen legal issues as the site doesnt have much on protecting young performers.
This might be very nitpicky but its something Im thinking of because I am currently thinking about starting a groupuse community in my town, Though there is a university and symphony orchestra in my town, I foresee many younger performs trying to be apart of it as well.