Houston Symphony Magazine From the Orchestra April 2011

On behalf my colleagues in the Houston Symphony, welcome to another exciting month of concerts! Our 97th concert season is going by quickly, but there is still plenty of great repertoire left to cover this month, including Rimsky-Korsakov's beloved Scheherazade, Mendelssohn's stirring Scottish Symphony, Stravinsky's famous Firebird suite and, on the Pops! side, a salute to Rogers and Hammerstein.

As musicians, it's often difficult to envision what we do through the eyes of the general public—many of whom have never been to a live symphonic concert. It is always fascinating to hear stories of how our audience members first came to a symphonic concert. Research shows that the largest barrier to potential concert-goers is getting them in the door the first time, as there are many misconceptions of the concert experience. Many expect to find themselves trapped for hours sitting silently in the dark amongst a formally-attired audience that knows exactly when to clap and how to behave (and frowns on those who don't) while watching rituals they can't comprehend. In an age when we are bombarded by cheap, easy and ubiquitous forms of entertainment—all competing to be the least challenging to our patience and intellect—this can seem like an intimidatingly tall order. But, an amazing thing can happen if you are actually able to get someone into the hall: previously-held reservations are overwhelmed by the power, beauty and majesty of the greatest music ever composed. I am constantly inspired by hearing stories from audience members who had never imagined themselves becoming concert-goers and yet, when they finally came to the hall, were so moved by what they heard that it became a regular part of their lives.

The arts blog Adaptistration initiated a nationwide program each Spring known as “Take a Friend to the Orchestra.” Most of us have friends we think would love the symphony if they were to be exposed, but have never made it to the hall. Often, people need a friendly hand to guide them through their first experience, and what better gift could there be than to share great art with great friends? This month's popular programming would be a wonderful choice for a first time concert-goer. In the coming months, will you consider joining us in our initiative to expose new audiences to the Symphony by bringing a friend who hasn't had the chance to hear live symphonic music? Like great literature, a classical concert can be an intimidating experience to the uninitiated, but those who are returning know that the two hours spent in silent meditation listening to compositions of such brilliance give perspective to the rest of our week. It heals our souls and the more we listen, the more depth we find in the music. Our mission is to ensure that this opportunity is open to all of the people of our city today—and for generations to come. Enjoy the concert.