New Hope for Classical Music: New World Symphony's Success with Innovative Concert Formats

By Louise Burton on Oct 09, 2013 12:54 PM EDT

For those who are concerned about the future of classical music in the world's concert halls, the New World Symphony has some inspiring news.

This orchestra has been fearlessly trying out all sorts of innovations in their new, technologically advanced concert hall. Music director Michael Tilson Thomas has collaborated with video artists to create installations for concerts, including performances featuring video artist Netia Jones coming up on October 17 and 19. The orchestra presents "Encounters" concerts, too, using video and narration to introduce audiences to new music. And the NWS trains its young fellows, graduates of prestigious music schools across the country, in these innovative ways of enhancing the concert experience.

The NWS also studies the concerts it presents, to see how their innovations are being received by audience members. To wit, the NWS recently announced the results of its most ambitious audit to date. This study looked at innovative concerts given by the NWS, as well at five professional orchestras across the U.S.

The New World Symphony chose to focus on three of its new concert formats:

30-minute "Mini-Concerts"

Late-night, mixed-genre, lounge-style events titled, "Pulse: Late Night at the New World Symphony"

Hour-long "Encounters" that integrate scripted narration and video into the performance--including a post-concert reception for the entire audience

The study found that these particular formats "attracted more than double the number of new patrons than traditionally formatted programs, while also increasing audience diversity."

During the survey period (2010-13), the aforementioned formats accounted for just 10% of the overall concert offerings, but attracted 31% of first-time ticket buyers.

And just as important: 42% of first-time attendees who were introduced to the NWS through an innovative format made an additional ticket purchase, either to another alternate format or to a conventionally formatted concert.

Judging from these results, the innovative concert formats show promise. To get a better idea of what these concerts are actually like, watch the NWS video about their "Mini-Concerts."

And a video about "Pulse: Late Night at the New World Symphony."

More power to the New World Symphony as they boldly re-imagine the concert experience. Coming soon, Classicalite will present more results from the NWS study, along with videos of the orchestra's most creative and inventive performances.

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TagsNew World Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, Netia Jones, New World Center, Encounters, Mini-Concerts, Pulse: Late Night at the New World Symphony

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