How the LA Chamber Orchestra Attracts Millennials
Restoring Classical Music in the New Millennium so far has centered on the Millennial musicians who are not only pushing the boundaries of Classical music, but also engaging audiences in new and exciting ways. If we zoom out to the organization level, there are orchestras, and those who lead them, that are playing an important role in these efforts as well. Among those organizations is the LA Chamber Orchestra (LACO), led by Executive Director Rachel Fine.
Making Great Music Personal
The raison d’être for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is “to enrich and connect our community through intimate and transformative musical experiences which exemplify and foster artistic excellence, education and innovation.” With Jeffrey Kahane, an esteemed conductor and pianist, as Music Director and Rachel Fine as Executive Director of the orchestra, LACO has maintained a reputation for masterful interpretation of historically significant works, as well as music written by contemporary composers. With nearly a half-century of performance history, LACO has shared Classical music and entertained audiences for decades. What about the next generation of concert-goers? How will orchestras engage the audiences of tomorrow – the Millennials – and continue to make music and inspire generations to come? Ms. Fine addressed the situation with MiLLENNiAL.
Fine emphasized that every orchestra is tasked with thinking about the next generation of audiences and ensuring continual growth and development. “Leave it to the music and musicians to make (Classical music) relevant and keep it in people’s lives,” she said. “It’s not just hearing great music that attracts Millennials to orchestra concerts; it’s also about having a memorable experience. LACO places a lot of importance on community building through meaningful experiences and connecting with people on a more personal level. I can imagine a more intimate approach, such as this, would be welcoming to audiences young and old.”
The Campus to Concert Hall All Access Pass is a strong incentive for attracting Millennial audiences to LA Chamber Orchestra performances, but the concert repertoire is really the main driver of attendance. There is no shortage of fun opportunities for Millennial audiences to attend concerts among peers and to have a good time. It’s about feeling connected with each other, the music, and the musicians. After-parties, special guests, mingling with the musicians, and events in cool, alternative spaces (such as Moss Theater, home of LACO’s Westside Connections series), make the Classical concert experience more accessible and unforgettable for audiences of any age.
Play Me, I’m Yours
One of the coolest examples of restoring Classical music in the new millennium is the “Play Me, I’m Yours” initiative. LACO brought this project to LA in 2012, installing 30 pianos around the city for anyone to play. In coordination with 100 community partners, the pianos were scattered as far west as Santa Monica and as far east as Glendale, and available 24 hours a day for 3 weeks. The curious passer-by would come across these Classical instruments in areas of high foot-traffic with only a sign that reads, “Play me, I’m yours.” Social media was a huge component of this project, where people could share their locations, descriptions, and upload media. “The young people came out in droves,” Ms. Fine said. ‘The whole community got really excited about the pianos as street art, which was a wonderfully interactive and fun musical experience.”
From live performance to recordings, videos, podcasts, blog posts, photos, social media, and more, the LA Chamber Orchestra is showing Millennials who they are as individuals, together as an organization, and as talented musicians. Rachel Fine and Jeffery Kahane have provided the leadership and direction that continues to drive and support the musicians of the LACO and enable greater connection with the community.
“I feel very strongly that the more flexible you can be as an orchestra, the greater probability of a longer-term vibrancy and sustainability. I know the interest is there and it’s about understanding Millennials to the best of our ability first and then thinking long and hard about how to engage them. They’re more willing to take risks…there’s a curiosity there to try things out.” – Rachel Fine.
“The question is how to get them in the hall repeatedly,” she said. “I think if LACO continues on this path of exploration and partnership and as a central part of the local society, Millennials will want to take part in the Classical concert experience and in forming a long-term relationship with the LA Chamber Orchestra.
Beethoven piano concerto no. 3
November 15, 2014 at Alex Theatre
November 16, 2014 at Royce Hall
I'm a Millennial who loves classical music, symphony orchestras, and working in the performing arts. MA, Arts Management [American University (Washington, DC)]; BA, Music Education [UNC-Wilmington]; Professional flutist, #ArtsMgtChat host, The League's Orchestra Leadership Academy, class of 2011.