What does it take to get audience members engaged in music today? Now that’s a loaded question!
Ask any musician, professional or student, and they will tell you that over the past few decades there has been an overt push by musicians and ensembles towards crafting innovative and interactive audience-engaging programs. Some groups definately have had more success than others. The Boston Pops' approach, new this season, I believe, hit the mark.
Opening night of the Boston Pops Spring Season 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Keith Lockhart as Conductor. With that, the Pops introduced a brand new dimension to their programming title “By Popular Demand.”
What did the program include? Audience members were given an opportunity to help shape the concert by choosing the music that brought the first half of the concert to a close. Using their mobile devices, the audience voted for their favorite Pops’ showstoppers. The polling was displayed in real time on the screen above the orchestra and the results, "was like watching election returns and with about the same enthusiasm." People were up and dancing in the aisles as they cheered and booed for the winning candidates.
Here is Keith Lockhart reflecting on the performances in an interview by NPR's Scott Simon. Boston Pops Gives The Audience What It Wants - May 16, 2015
Engagements like these, where audience members are permitted and encouraged to take part and show their excitement, are spectacular! Suddenly those in the seats become a part of the performance, taking part-ownership in what they are about to see. Although concepts like these certainly take a good amount of preparation by the ensemble (and their librarians), this is most definitely worth doing.
Wouldn't you like to be able to contribute to the Chicago Symphony's opening overture or the New York Philharmonic's encore? I know I would.