FROM TC: "Take A Friend To The Orchestra" Week is an annual event hosted by Drew McManus on his blog Adaptistration. Critics, bloggers, musicians, classical music enthusiasts, and administrators are invited to participate. McManus explains the thinking behind the project, which started in 2005:

"If this business ever hopes to reverse the trend in declining ticket sales and lack of participation throughout their communities, they are going to need the help of the people who already care about classical music....The more patrons who participate across the country each April, the more likely the program will develop and evolve into something uniquely capable of contributing a constructive influence in the development of tomorrow's classical music culture. As such, enabling patrons to become contributing partners who have a distinct voice in the future of their orchestras is a necessary step in the process of recovery."

Visit the TAFTO website for more information and to browse the archive of more than 80 contributions from the past eight years. Below are excerpts from some of this year's posts:


6 fail-safe ways to get your concert on

Holly Mulcahy, violinist and author of Neo Classical, a blog about the future of classical music

Asking a friend to a symphony can be a hard sell sometimes. Here [are] a few ideas to create a group outing that will surely create a meaningful, enjoyable, and crazy-fun night at the symphony.

Blind Date: [An] orchestra had a Sunday concert blind date idea. The conductor acknowledged the 10 couples in attendance, and the audience around them applauded, welcomingly. You know what's awesome about a blind date at a symphony concert? You don't have to say much!  That awkward quiet over the typical coffee date is replaced by wonderful [music]. After, if you want to move on to coffee, you can discuss the concert.

Family Reunion: It was hard to miss the giant family sitting in the front row of one of my concerts since they were all wearing the same color sweaters. At intermission I asked about this, and it turned out that "Grandma wouldn't stop talking about the symphony she went to as a kid, and we decided to surprise her with a night out."

Teenagers in Tiaras: I ran into a large group of delightfully dressed teens...with the popularity of Downton Abbey and other period shows, these girls felt compelled to don their gowns and be ladies going to the symphony.

Drag Queens in Tiaras: Even more awesome. A big group of friends who wanted to have an evening on the town. I suppose the strange looks other patrons gave them was quickly brushed aside as the music started. In my opinion, who cares! They were clearly having fun and getting the most out of their night on the town.

Foodies Pre-Concert Hang: I met a group of symphony goers in one town that regularly had a gathering of fine wine and fine food before each masterwork concert. This popular event started with just a few couples but quickly grew and before long, the little get-togethers encouraged their friends to want in on the fun.

Cocktail Post-Concert Hang: One orchestra I worked with had a bar attached to the symphony hall. It was amazing to see how word spread that you could meet musicians, conductor, soloists, and friends after a concert.


Why I go to symphony concerts, and why you should come with me

Emmy Award-winning producer, composer, and director Scott Silberstein

Okay, my friends, let's talk about what we're going to do tonight. Maybe a trip to Orchestra Hall to hear the Chicago Symphony? Why should you allow me to take you to the orchestra? Well, I can tell you why I go. I don't know any better. The extraordinary sound of the symphony orchestra got to me before people had a chance to tell me that I wasn't supposed to like music that, in their estimation, was old hat. Orchestral music kept me company when I was a kid. If it could inspire Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, how could it be anything but cool? And, come on, admit it. You already like this stuff. I can see in your eyes... you're almost sold. (But not quite.) You're worried about spinach. You're worried I'm trying to take you to one of those "good for you" experiences, where if you eat your spinach, then maybe afterward you'll be allowed to go out and play. I don't try to convince people that Debussy isn't spinach because I reject the whole spinach premise in the first place. All of it -- rock, jazz, classical, hip-hop, Broadway, whatever -- it's all just music, the best of which is timeless, and even the worst of which can be exciting when it's being played right in front of your eyes. So here's the deal. First, please believe me when I tell you that I don't go to the symphony because I want to hobnob with business tycoons, or because I'm stuck in the 18th century, or because I think I'm so much smarter and cultured than you or anyone else. Second, understand that I go, and that I want to take you with me, because -- and forgive me if I get a little technical here -- it's effing amazing.


Classical music and Big Ten sports go hand-in-hand

Heather Brown is a classical music fan whose real jobs are working in international logistics and transportation during the week and teaching English on the weekends

Thanks to my parents' influence, I grew up playing and listening to classical music.  I also grew up loving sports.  Thankfully, Columbus, Ohio has both. Even with a terrific classical music scene though, Ohio State University athletics always seems to get the upper hand in this town.  OK, sure. Ohio's a football state, but I think the two actually complement each other and have more in common than your average sports fan might think. No really.  They do.  Here's why:

  • Organizations like the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) inspire young students to perform and love classical music.
  • Students go to as many sporting events as possible.
  • Students realize playing an instrument well gets them into said sporting events for free.
  • Student musicians secretly dream of dotting the i during the Script Ohio. 
  • Teams count on musicians to be a huge, dependable cheering force at each game.
  • Sports fans in Ohio don't leave their seats until after The Best Damn Band in the Land (the Ohio State University Marching Band) has performed.

See?  Without music ensembles originally inspired by classical music, athletic teams would be without their main source of encouragement as well as without fan entertainment during halftimes and time outs.  Since classical music helps sports team win, my belief is that sports fans should help support classical music in return. 

Rankings: There are six Big Ten universities listed among the Top 25 music schools in the U.S, two of which, Indiana and Michigan rank higher than Juilliard.  The basketball teams of Indiana, Michigan and The Ohio State University all made it to the Sweet 16.  Wisconsin and Illinois also made it to the NCAA tourney.  Coincidence?

Hockey: Big Ten schools have hockey teams.  CSO Music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni played hockey as a kid.  Sure, he likes the Montreal Canadiens, but we can work on that.

Recognition: Alicia Hui, a very talented violinist in the CSO, was very well-received after she played Prokofiev's Violin Concerto #1.  Aaron Craft, a very talented basketball player, was very well-received after he hit a last-second, game winning 3-pointer in the NCAA tourney.  Musicians and athletes are totally alike. Who knew?

The Lone Ranger: The Columbus Symphony Orchestra played the William Tell Overture last October.  The Indiana University Big Red Pep Band plays the William Tell Overture at every home basketball game - so well in fact that it's ranked the Most Outstanding Time Out in college basketball.  Look it up.  Sports fans cheer to Rossini!

So what do you say Buckeye fans? Marching bands play Holst in Ohio Stadium.  Pep bands play Rossini in Assembly Hall.  You've heard this great music before, now I encourage you to try out the original in the Ohio Theatre. Support your favorite teams (and The Ohio State University Chorale) by joining me next Saturday, May 4th, at the Ohio Theatre for the CSO's last performance of the season.   

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ERRATUM: I included an incorrect link to Alisa Solomon's blog post in yesterday's edition of YCM. Thankfully the link that I used (which led to another writer's post on the same topic) included the correct link, but here it is again in case you missed it and wanted to read the full text of what Ms. Solomon wrote:

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