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Never, ever, record a symphony or opera concert. Ever. If you do, it will be a blatant and vile transgression against the very foundations of what your friends want you to share with them. (And the unions are bitchy about it, too, I think.)

Has this ever struck anyone as strange? We might wonder if the pre-concert proclamation, made by a digital town crier, was written by the legal department and carries the full force of the law. “No recordings of any type.” What is the value of recording a classical music concert?

Let’s examine the perception that this undermines the concert process. Most symphony concerts are half empty. They’re not half full. They are half empty. Make no mistake.

"No recordings of any type!"

"No recordings of any type!"

What if, before a classical music concert, a real, live person came out and said:

Please record the concert, please take pictures and share them with every single person you know online. Please share your experience with others right now as it is happening.

We’re struggling to keep people interested in classical music so anything you can do to help get others interested would be a miracle. Oh wait, we’ve got to rebroadcast this on our local public radio station in a few months. Forget what we just said and gather your friends together in your car because this isn’t even going to stream online, and who the f— has a radio anywhere else besides their car?

OK, OK. Here’s what we want you to do. Get your friends together on a Sunday evening around 7:30 p.m, in your car. Listen to this concert with them, but before that, give them a detailed description of the concert hall until their eyes glaze over. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words so that should be your guideline for length.

As the music is playing give your best impersonation of the conductor and at appropriate times in the music impersonate the concertmaster, the timpanist, and the double basses. However, be careful because you are in a car and might hurt someone and we don’t want to be liable.

Or maybe it would be better for you to just sit there during this concert, not record anything, and then go out two by two like the early disciples and spread the good word of classical music from door to door. Make sure you wear black pants, a white shirt, and black tie. You don’t have to walk, you could ride a bike or something. Who wouldn’t want that to show up on their doorstep?

You know what — just let us handle this. We have a marketing department that has filled half of this not-even-that-big hall. You all sit there and listen — and give us some extra money because we aren’t selling tickets — damn it.

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Joaquin_de_la_Mesa May 1, 2015 @ 1:12 a.m.

Exactly! It's 2015, symphony! Word of everything is spread through small recordings posted online by people, not departments. Get with it, or go extinct.


Garrett Harris May 3, 2015 @ 5:24 p.m.

Rachel, I've been a union opera singer for 15 years with San Diego Opera. I think after what happened here last season I'm firmly "in their shoes". In fact, they're my shoes. So far as "checking it out" I'm a music critic. I've checked it out. 193,000 divided by the capacity of The Jacobs Music Center is 87 sold out concerts. That did not happen.

I'm guessing the pops and outreach programs also factor into that number. I'd also venture to guess that there's some redundancy in those numbers. However, let's say 193,000 individuals saw the San Diego Symphony. That's roughly 3% of the county. I don't call that a success.

I've been to umpteen half empty concerts as a music critic and chastised the San Diego audience for not attending. However, the culture surrounding classical music is about the most boring thing in the world. That CEO's of symphony orchestras and opera companies come out in front of their patrons and read off a piece of paper tells me just how passionate they are about promoting classical music.

The vast majority of the music performed is in the public domain so I'm not sure which copyright laws apply. Have you ever been to IMSLP.com? The fact that you are the general manager of a classical music organization makes me think that you must know that Beethoven isn't getting any royalties these days.

So far as someone holding an iPad in front of your face, no one in their right mind uses the crappy camera on an Ipad. They might use their phone camera or they will snap a few pictures and maybe record a movement of music to remember the concert. I don't know, it's never happened so we can't judge it. It's called "slippery slope" and it's a logical informal fallacy.

Mention one-off sell out performances all you want but the fact of the matter is that attendance is an issue and the ATLANTA symphony locked it's musicians out over a labor dispute.

"The lockout was triggered after the orchestra’s parent organization, the Woodruff Arts Center, sought more concessions from the musicians, who had agreed to significant pay cuts two years ago. The arts center said that it could no longer afford the orchestra’s deficits."

Deficits happen when not enough people care about something to support it either politically or financially. I'll keep doing my best to promote classical music to everyone I meet and you can dither over the intricacies of international copyright law as it applies to the 19th Century music of citizens of governments that don't exist anymore.

Sorry but you poked the dragon.


Visduh May 12, 2015 @ 11:40 a.m.

I"m all for innovation and "thinking outside the box" when it comes to keeping classical music alive. The Symphony, with that massive endowment it now possesses, could try reducing ticket prices, or giving some free concerts. Let the folks record the performances. Recordings will never replace live performance. But they might just pique some interest in classical music.


eastlaker May 3, 2015 @ 7:54 p.m.

Well, the good news is that the concert Sunday afternoon was sold out, was enthusiastically received, and was excellent.

(I'm not here to argue with anyone, merely mentioning it was a great concert).


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