Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times keeps, well, complaining that he can’t figure out the “theme” of the recent Tully Scope festival here in New York. “But the theme of the festival was hard to discern,” he writes, referring back to the opening event in his enthusiastic review of the final concert (which I blogged about here). “And at its conclusion the theme of Tully Scope still seemed amorphous,” he continues later. In his review of the opening event he says,
I cannot figure out what the point of this festival is supposed to be. In a program note Jane Moss, the vice president for programming at Lincoln Center, writes that TullyScope is “an international bazaar,” a “discovery of all that is wonderful about New York’s musical life.” It is also, she adds, “about a very special new musical home at Lincoln Center.” Fair enough, but terribly vague.
Maybe it’s a generational thing. Somehow I doubt Mr. Tommasini uses the shuffle feature on his iPod (if he has one) to experience a randomly-ordered, surprising-filled juxtaposition of music. If he did, this may have made more sense to him.
There wasn’t a central, organizing musical focus, like the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Manifest Legacy: Beethoven and Brahms series, which ran concurrently with Tully Scope in the same hall. You might say that it was a festival “about nothing,” as the now-ancient sitcom Seinfeld (set in New York) was often described. Which means, that like Seinfeld, it was a festival about everything. A kind of musical buffet in which one could sample all sorts of new things. The lack of a central musical point was the point. It was a celebration of musical diversity. New music, old music. Superstars like Emmanuel Ax and Jordi Savall. New York-based up-and-comers like Tyondai Braxton and Brooklyn Rider.
Closing his review of the final concert, he does hit on what I think some of we older music-types may miss the significance of:
After the concert, as with all the Tully Scope events, the audience gathered in the lobby and mingled, given glasses of sparkling wine. You were surrounded by animated conversations about the music. Lincoln Center should find a way to keep this welcome innovation of Tully Scope going.
Absolutely. As Greg Sandow points out in his post on the final concert,
People normally go out at night to have an experience. They want to do something that’ll be fun, or meaningful, something they think they’ll enjoy, that will mean something to them.
Yes, yes, yes. This added so much to the experience. I ended up meeting and chatting with someone after every concert I attended, which would not have happened without the space or without the free drink. In a comment on Greg’s post, Linda writes,
This is what “The Experience Economy” is all about. People (especially in the sought after 25-40 age group) want to buy into a complete experience, preferably one in which they can interact with other people, rather than be passive “receivers.”
The other aspect of the “complete experience,” which the reviews I’ve seen have overlooked, is Tully Scope’s fascinating use of staging and lighting design. I keep commenting on it in my blog posts because I’m realizing it’s so important and so many of us interested in the future of classical music aren’t thinking (enough) about it. What I’ve really gotten during my time here in New York is that concerts are much more visual than people my age (50+) tend to realize, or would like to be the case. For younger audiences, the visual is an important component of the complete experience.
People who just want to hear good music can stay home and listen to the inexhaustible supply of nearly a century’s worth of extraordinary recordings. Complete, interactive experiences that are humanizing and foster human connection need to engage more than just the ears. If, of course, you want more than a handful of people to attend.