Enhancing audience experience of live classical music performance

Interesting exerpt from a recent (June 25, 2010) preview article by Wynne Delacoma in Chicago Classical Review.  She discusses James Conlon's ideas regarding strategies for enhancing audience experience of live classical music performances., and the implementation of these ideas at Ravinia: Ravinia is celebrating Conlon’s 60th birthday this season, and he has seen massive changes on the music scene. Classical music has become a niche art, but Conlon actively fights the notion that it is only for a select few. Early in his career he hated the notion of conductors speaking to audiences. But now he gives a pre-opera talk every time he conducts in Los Angeles. Whenever he speaks from Ravinia’s podium, his comments are typically witty and graceful.

Conlon sees value in the video screens that Ravinia is using at every CSO concert. The idea is to give pavilion audiences a closer look at the performers and forge a closer connection between audience and orchestra. Some concertgoers loathe them, but Kauffman said the overall response has been positive.

“It was a big mistake,” said Conlon, “to have allowed classical music to fall out of public education, and we’re paying the price for it now. Anything that reverses this trend is a necessity.

“I can certainly understand the viewpoint of people who may not like those screens. But I think at this point in history, it’s outweighed by the necessity of winning people and keeping them, young people especially. People very much like seeing the orchestra.”