5. David Alan Miller: Orchestra Programming is an Argument for Ideas

WHAT’S IN THIS VIDEO: Programs are a collection of ideas. You can argue something tightly, one idea building on another, or it can be more abstract, a group of pieces that connect around some central idea. Difficult to juggle all the variables.  The practicalities also dictate how programs are made. You need to factor the size of the orchestra. And every concert should have something new in it. Older pieces refract something about the new piece. How do you sell a program? That’s more difficult… Marketing programs is easier with Big Name pieces but it’s not so interesting unless there’s something new to be said about those pieces. The way you program them is key.



  1. Kenneth Greenwood says:

    With your approach to buiding progams for the Albany Symphony are the numbers of the audience increasing as you move to increase the exposure of the audience to clasical music from the 20th and 21st centuries???

  2. Dave Connolly says:

    About the question: Is your audience increasing . . . with exposure to 20th and 21st century music?
    If all I want to hear is the work of dead white composers, I could stay home and listen to recordings. I do want to hear their works, but new works, too. If the ASO weren’t programming contemporary works, I wouldn’t be a subscriber. A bonus benefit is the give and take at pre-concert lectures among live composers, the soloists featured in their works and the audience. I suspect this interaction would be difficult to arrange with the dearly departed. Compositional creativity is alive and well and being enjoyed in the Capital Region.

    • In reply to the reply to my question about increasing numbers of concert goers to the ASO. The writer indicated if all he wanted to hear was concert works by dead white composers he could stay home and listen to CD’s. I’ve attended 2 concerts over the last year that can’t really be captured on CD. The 1st was the Mahler 8th. Just the scope of the orchestral and choral forces was so impressive. I had never seen it performed live before and surely wouldn’t settle for CD if I get a chance to hear a live performance. The 2nd was Berlioz Symphonie Fastastique which I must have heard 100 times on radio and CD. I was blown away by the size of the orchestral forces and the fact that it was composed only 3 years after Beethoven’s death. I would never settle for a CD over a live performance of this work. By the way there is a Dudamel performance of this entire work on You Tube. There many other works that I would take a live performance over listening to a CD. One other example Rhostapovich conducting NSO in a performance of the Beethoven 3rd after his return from Russia when no one including Rhostapovich new if he would return. His reading of the 2nd mvmt was so profound and powerful that every listener that I could see had tears in their eyes. Now having said all that I still don’t have an answer to my original question.

      • Dave Connolly says:

        A September, 2011 press release found on the ASO Website states that subscriptions at that time were at an all time high. I am almost positive that the number of subscribers increased even further for the current season. I don’t know what percent of the total audience that subscribers represent (I’m not affiliated with the orchestra, except as a concert-goer), but I think it is fairly high. You asked whether the numbers are increasing, and the answer is definitely Yes. For specific data, I suggest that you contact the ASO office.

  3. Thanks Dave for your answer. I have been reading some of the articles on Greg Sandow Blog[composer, music critic and husband of Anne Midgette Classical Music Critic for the Washington Post. His Blog is dedicated to the future of classical music and solving its current problems. He states the numbers attended classical music concerts is aging, and [my words] therefore dwindling. That why I was asking about audience numbers. However another important a question is, are the number of young people attending these concerts increasing??? The future of classical music is getting young people to attend concerts. I have been attending classical music concerts all my life. However my college graduated granddaughter tells me she doesn’t go to concerts because they are boring. I don’t have an answer as she has attended the mighty 9th of Beethoven and still says it is boring.

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