Conventional wisdom argues that audiences only like the familiar. They’re only interested in concert experiences where they can hear the music they already know and love. This mindset is certainly embraced by most booking agents, presenters, and orchestra programmers.
My experience indicates otherwise. People seem to love the new. They can’t wait to get their hands on the newest gadget, try the latest restaurant, or check out a film on opening weekend that “is so unexpected it will blow your mind away.” Most love the roller coaster ride.
As long as they make a connection and know they’ll be OK.
I direct a group at Duquesne University called The Accidental Collective. My article Re-Imagining the University Ensemble Experience explored the entrepreneurial structure of this ensemble. But our artistic mission is just as important. We strive to create shows that will attract large audiences (resulting from a combination strong marketing and compelling productions), and bring them enthusiastically to their feet, all through the lens of contemporary and unfamiliar music.
One of our strategies is presenting a wide variety of musical genres, languages, and aesthetics. This way, everyone finds something familiar alongside new elements. With an understanding that we live in a visual society, we also aim to make beautiful theater: costuming, lighting, staging, transitions between piece, multi-media elements, positioning, etc. Additionally, we prioritize making every programmed piece completely our own in some way, distinguishing it from any version that other groups have played. (So there, conventional wisdom…)
Below is a video sampler of The Accidental Collective from last year, providing a glimpse into our explorations. This season, our new line-up is already pushing the envelope even further. Please enjoy!