Learning From The NFL

There’s a music blog on ArtJournal.com called Creative Destruction, but no author is indicated.  Instead this descriptor appears under the link, “Fresh ideas on building arts communities.”  I was curious so I checked it out and found that the blogger is John Thomas Dodson.  He’s a conductor.  You can find out more about him here.

His blog, “Can We Talk” from December 29, 2009 drew me in.  In it he writes of an inspiring Cleveland Orchestra concert of this season, with soloist Richard Goode performing Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto on a program that included Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz and Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony.

He writes:

The comments I heard as I left Severance Hall included, “That was….well, I’m at a loss for words,” and a very enthusiastic, beaming woman on the stairwell who, unable to contain herself, exclaimed “That was a revelation!”  (He continues.)

And then we all went home.

…or out with friends, off to a restaurant, or to pick up something from the store. What we didn’t do was interact with each other.  .  .  . When you attend a concert that was a “revelation” the sheer intensity of the experience seems to demand something more than a drive home with a smile on your face, but, it seems that we’re at a loss for words partly because we haven’t worked out an authentic, workable format for sharing them in the moment. In the final analysis many of us want to discuss, socialize, connect, question or confirm our opinions, share, learn and think about others’ viewpoints. We want community, and that seems to mean many different things to each one of us.  .  .  . Of course the answer may be found through on-line communities, at least for some people. Like many other orchestras, Cleveland has a blog, but it serves a different purpose. Where would you go after the concert to extend the experience, discuss the music, make new friends, and feel a genuine part of that concert-going community? It may be that the answer won’t be “institutional” at all. For all I know, someone who was in that audience that night is already discussing Goode’s Beethoven and Fischer’s Rachmaninoff on Facebook.

I think Mr. Dodson might be on to something.  I live in Rochester, NY which is near Buffalo and that means we get the Buffalo Bills games.  (For this analogy I wish I could say I lived near Indianapolis, but I’m stuck with the Bills.)  Anyway—you have your pre-game show, the game then the post game show.  If you listen to the post game on the radio, you get at least one or two hours of commentary plus listeners calling in.  I wonder if this concept could be adapted for concert-goers who want to discuss what they just heard?  The audience is probably not there for radio, but online it might work.  Or, maybe the place for this discussion is a nearby restaurant or bar.  Knowing the stereotypical mindset of most managments, an idea like this would probably have to come from the private sector and not from the orchestra itself, but one thing is certain.  It will have to come from an entrepreneurial thinker.

Read Mr. Dobson’s full blog here.

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Ramon Ricker

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