Is it all about brand recognition?

Observations from last weekend’s fantastic, sparsely attended Spanish Rhapsody concert

From Ravel - Alborada del gracioso - Barenboim
  • From Ravel - Alborada del gracioso - Barenboim

Ravel - Alborada del gracioso - Barenboim

The hall was about half full for the Spanish Rhapsody. Previously the hall had been 95% full for Carmina Burana.

To my mind and heart, the Spanish concert had the greater merit musically and artistically except for Conrad Tao and the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 which opened the Carmina Burana concert. However, the hall was full because of Carmina Burana and Conrad Tao’s superhero piano playing was a bonus.

The Carmina Burana concert was received by the audience with much more enthusiasm than I thought it merited as music, but people love it and I can’t argue with that. What I can argue with is the nature of the audience and their response to classical music “brands.”

The Carmina Burana brand is more prevalent than the Spanish Rhapsody brands of Lalo, Chabrier, de Falla, and even Ravel. However, all of those composers, especially de Falla, and certainly Ravel wrote more than one hit. Orff is a one hit wonder, let’s be honest.

Was the audience that loved Carmina Burana simply unaware of the splendor of the upcoming Spanish Rhapsody weekend?

I guarantee the Beethoven and Brahms concert that is coming up will be better attended than the Spanish Rhapsody. The San Diego Symphony and maestro Ling have found a home with Brahms and they will crush his Symphony No. 2, but they crushed the Spanish concert too.

However, Beethoven and Brahms are well known commodities. I'm wondering if an "upcoming features"-type segment is warranted at Symphony concerts.

What if an ambassador from the symphony had addressed the full house during Carmina Burana and explained how excited they were for the upcoming Spanish Rhapsody concert? What if the orchestra had then played a few exciting passages of the music followed by an invitation to buy tickets during intermission?

I know there was a Thursday night concert a few weeks ago that featured highlights of next season, but I would imagine the people who would go to a Thursday night concert are predominantly season subscribers already.

I have no evidence of that. Maybe there were a thousand fresh sets of ears there.

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Comments

Pretty sure this is the first time I've ever heard of anyone "crushing" a symphony! Also, good meme.

/hipster approval

This is good news. I submit Edward Elgar as a composer with hipster tendencies.

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