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Thread: Contemporary music for older audience: success

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    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
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    Default Contemporary music for older audience: success

    I played an hour of music for a retirement community audience today and took the opportunity to play the same program I'm planning for my concert in Hartford in October. The audiences are unlikely to overlap, but as the Oct. concert is at the church where I work, our older congregation is likely to comprise a good portion of the audience.

    I wanted to see how the program, particularly the contemporary pieces, would go over with this age group. The pieces were Harrison: Reel/Homage to Henry Cowell, Higdon: Secret & Glass Gardens, and Bellissimo (aka oogabooha): Problems for Piano no. 4. And they loved it!

    Also on the program were a Haydn sonata, three Debussy preludes and five of the Schumann Op. 12 Fantasiestucke.

    So much for the old saw that older people can't handle modern music...
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hreichgott View Post
    So much for the old saw that older people can't handle modern music...
    It's the way you play it!
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
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    Flatterer!

    Probably it is true that finding the expressive and personality characteristics of new music is more difficult for a performer, just because it is new -- it's not like Chopin where we all have an idea of its personality already. My current teacher is always talking about putting extra effort into "presenting" the contemporary pieces, making it really obvious what they are and what they're about. This seems to be very good advice.
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    It's the way you play it!
    And if your gestures and facial expressions convey "passion" to them, LOL.

    Seriously, there is nothing there contemporary, just modern, works dated later than midcentury notwithstanding, still in the older cast. But, some older people, fortunately, like to get it all a bit shaken up... not all, but some. Many, though, with nothing to lose, are more ready to take a chance on new art than a lot of younger people are.

    "Been there: done that." -- for seniors, is often far more true than not, and it takes on a whole other dimension :-)

    P.s. Oh and ByTheWay ~ Congratulations.
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-08-2013 at 22:19.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    It's the way you play it!
    So true! I was at a Jeremy Denk recital recently with an audience of (mostly) oldsters. He opened with Bartok's Piano Sonata -- not contemporary, but fearsome enough. He had the audience out of their seats cheering and hollering -- favorably, I think!


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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hreichgott View Post
    Flatterer!

    Probably it is true that finding the expressive and personality characteristics of new music is more difficult for a performer, just because it is new -- it's not like Chopin where we all have an idea of its personality already. My current teacher is always talking about putting extra effort into "presenting" the contemporary pieces, making it really obvious what they are and what they're about. This seems to be very good advice.
    Whatever you are playing, maybe even more so the already well-known and performed older music, it is more than important to have a very clear and strong point of view on the piece, always. Practiced and performed without, even the most formally structured piece will seem without shape or much weight.
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-08-2013 at 23:04.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    So true! I was at a Jeremy Denk recital recently with an audience of (mostly) oldsters. He opened with Bartok's Piano Sonata -- not contemporary, but fearsome enough. He had the audience out of their seats cheering and hollering -- favorably, I think!
    I think many a promoter and programmer, symphony board member, consistently underestimate the intelligence of the general public, and what they are ready for.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    So true! I was at a Jeremy Denk recital recently with an audience of (mostly) oldsters. He opened with Bartok's Piano Sonata -- not contemporary, but fearsome enough. He had the audience out of their seats cheering and hollering -- favorably, I think!
    Nonsense! We just need to get up and move around often (or we stiffen and / or lock up) and we need to empty and fill our lungs to better ensure we don't rapidly just shut down completely :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-09-2013 at 00:04.

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