Marketing a “Difficult” Concert

All orchestras want to “stretch” and offer repertoire that challenges both the players and the audience — that strengthens the symphonic art form and moves us into the future. But selling these concerts to our regular patrons can be very challenging. Orchestras with liberal return policies find subscribers giving in their tickets to the “stretch” concert and opting for a Pops or special concert instead.

Yet the Milwaukee Symphony was able to sell out their performances of Bartok’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle back in 2009 by making it an “event.” Christopher Stager, of CRStager marketing & audience development, interviewed Milwaukee Symphony’s Susan Loris, VP of Marketing & Communications, and Sarah Hogan, Associate Director of Marketing, to learn more about their marketing plan and how they engineered such a successful outcome.

I imagine having fabulous sets by Dale Chihuly didn’t hurt their success!

About the author

Ann Drinan
Ann Drinan

Ann Drinan, Senior Editor, has been a member of the Hartford Symphony viola section for over 30 years. She is a former Chair of the Orchestra Committee, former member of the HSO Board, and has served on many HSO committees. She is also the Executive Director of CONCORA (CT Choral Artists), a professional chorus based in Hartford and New Britain, founded by Artistic Director Richard Coffey. Ann was a member of the Advisory Board of the Symphony Orchestra Institute (SOI), and was the HSO ROPA delegate for 14 years, serving as both Vice President and President of ROPA. In addition to playing the viola and running CONCORA, Ann is a professional writer and editor, and has worked as a consultant and technical writer for software companies in a wide variety of industries for over 3 decades. (She worked for the Yale Computer Science Department in the late 70s, and thus has been on the Internet, then called the DARPAnet, since 1977!) She is married to Algis Kaupas, a sound recordist, and lives a block from Long Island Sound in Branford CT. Together they create websites for musicians:

Ann holds a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA in International Relations from Yale University.

Read Ann Drinan's blog here.

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