Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Concert Format Ideas

Here's another set of Concert Format Ideas for all thoes out there who are hungry to renew your orchestras profile.

All these ideas are ©Jesper L. S. Nordin 2014 and may not be used without my prior consent or participation. Inquiries can be made at

"Play vs. Pay"

Very simple: Set up an equation, based on your union regulations, wherein you calculate exactly how much of a given piece the audience gets to hear, based on how much they pay at the entrance.
Entrance fee is up to each audience member, but their gathered total determines how much music they get to hear. This should serve to clearly illustrate the dangerous discrepancy between actual and percieved value of a classical concert.

Very speculative example: 
Total ticket sales equals 1000$. 
Price for a musician pr. minute, based on union regulated fees = 0,5$. 
Total number of musicians = 25. 
Minutes of music performed: 1000/25*0,5 = 20 minutes of music.

"But wait, how is that possible?? That is ridiculous...1000$ for only 20 minutes of chamber orchestra? That only amounts to something like an early Haydn symphony?"
Yes, isn't that weird? What if ticket prices reflected the actual value (as calculated according to union regulations)? Would anyone want to pay 200$ to hear a Brahms symphony, and that's not even including the conductor's exorbitant fee? The answer is of course a big, resounding "No!".


Inspired by italian clown Paolo Nani's brilliant performance piece "The Letter", this set of variations is not a set of musical variations, but a set of circumstancial variations. You pick a piece of music, and you perform x times, depending on the number of variations.
        • With the back to the audience
        • With the lights off
        • With orchestra members switching instruments
        • With the orchestra conducting and the conductor singing
        • With everyone in the orchestra singing their part
        • With the orchestra smiling (forced)
        • With the orchestra lying on their back
        • With the orchestra mixed in with the audience
        • The music is played backwards. The conductor must conduct backwards etc.
        • etc. et.

"Out with the old, in with the new"
Select a know piece of music (i.e. "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik"). Start the performance with a band consisting of Period Instruments, tuned to 415hz. One by one, replace the musicians with other musicians playing modern instruments tuned to 443hz. Physical and visual representation of the whole period vs. modern instrument discussion. How will it sound to the audience? More and more disturbing as the ratio of 415 to 443 approaches 1:1, and then gradually resolving into a modern orchestra sound.
Whether or not to lock instruments and musicians into their tuning by using barrée (to avoid any natural adjustments they might make) or other accesories is up to you.
Maybe you want groups of instruments tune to 331 filling in the middleground?
Maybe you want only strings, maybe you want harpsichords tuned to each group etc.

More concert format ideas here and here


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If you could magically create your dream conductor, but he/she could only posess one quality, he/she should preferably be...