Another Experiement in Creating New-Audiences

For their capstone project, my first-year seminar class at DePauw this semester was given the task to conceive, plan, organize, publicize, and present a performance that would:

  • include some classical music, but not be necessarily limited to it
  • attract non-music students who would not otherwise voluntarily attend a performance of classical music

After much brainstorming, discussion, market research, etc., and with encouragement from me and indirectly from Greg Sandow, they decided on the following:

  • hold the concert in the last week of class as a study break
  • hold it in the ballroom of the Student Union building, near the food court, so as to capitalize on walk-by traffic
  • include free food as a draw (see, they know what will attract a college-age audience)
  • not use the word “classical” anywhere in the title or publicity (a result of getting focus group feedback from other students)
  • have a mix of audience-participation drum circle, classical music, and pop music
  • use really eye-catching posters, which they designed themselves and had professionally printed
  • use Facebook to invite friends and friends of friends
  • do heavy word-of-mouth publicity and invitation

They named the event “A Musical Buffet, with a Side of Punch and Pie.” “Punch and pie” is a reference to the South Park movie. They got funds from the university and had 10 pies, several cakes, and countless cookies, as well as 15 gallons of punch. (So, unlike the South park movie in which punch and pie isn’t served at the meeting on how to save the world, they did serve dessert!)

The event was Tuesday night, and a grand success. The classical pieces were as warmly cheered as the pop pieces. The audience was huge–beyond their expectations–with the majority non-music majors. And the class members told me today that they were delighted that none of them recognized a majority of the audience–so it wasn’t just their own friends and classmates who came.

Everything went off without a hitch. Response from students, faculty, and administration has been enthusiastic.

I’ll write more soon, and post some video.

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