Post Concert Observations
Overall the concert was successful. We had a good crowd, approximately 135 people who were appreciative of the music (it’s nice to have friends in the audience), the music went very much as expected and in the end I learned a great deal both about the music and putting on a concert of this magnitude.
Things that went right
The concert order was right. Some people felt the string quartet should have headlined the event as they were the professionals on stage. Yet, the build from chamber piece, to opera to symphony was right for the night.
Acoustics in the hall were amazing. I spent a lot of time looking for halls that had good acoustics and I am glad I did. I’ve heard orchestras play in a number of other venues and they are muddy and not well defined. The sound engineer for last night was very pleased with how good the sound quality was for the distant microphones. That speaks well for the quality of the hall acoustics.
Sound engineering took a bit to sort out - where to place the microphones so they would get a good sound and yet not be in the way of the audience. In the end, although I’ve not heard the recording yet, the engineer thinks he got a really good take on the music.
Things that I wish had gone better
We did get a good crowd, but so many people that we thought might be there were not. However, that said, I am not sure there is anything we could have done to improve this. None of the press releases we sent out were published. Although numerous posters were put up about town, I do not think there were any who saw the poster and did not know me personally who came to the concert. This is because I am an unknown and not affiliated with any known organization.
Had I been working with say the BBC orchestra and using their media department, or even if Napier’s or Scottish Widows media department had sent out press releases for the concert we did put on, I think we would have been more successful in getting press coverage – and concert goers outside of the “friends” category. In the future, I will make sure to work with an established organization and have their “clout” behind the publicity.
Lighting was huge disappointment. The company I hired touted themselves as ‘providers of the lighting for the National Youth Orchestra’, but I have come to find out they just supply the equipment while another agency does the focusing. Obviously, they know nothing about lighting an orchestra. The technical problems with the lights were never ending and ultimately they could not even be used for the last half of the concert as they were in all the wrong positions.
Mixing concert mediums is not a good idea. Orchestras, operas and chamber ensembles are very different beasts. Even though they are all musicians, they each have a very different set of requirements. Trying to put all three of these types of music into one concert was probably the one idea that I really should not have done. There was a struggle finding a place for all the musicians to have a space prior to the concert and not get mixed up with the other groups, so rather than having one “green room” we needed three. That was very unexpected. The idea that they did not mix well together was surprising. It was as if they each felt the other musicians were an inconvenience and yet I felt we were all there for a common purpose. Obviously, this was not the case. In the future I will limit the focus of performances to a single style of music ensemble.
Things that were not perfect, but as expected
The chorus for the opera struggled with the words. I think they did an admirable job considering they are a college chorus of young, inexperienced voices. Their performance is a real credit to Laurie Crump who got them to sing the music as well as he did; it’s not easy music. The performance was a step up from the rehearsal in the afternoon, so I am pleased with that.
The symphony went well, for the most part. There were a couple of points in the 3rd movement and in the 5th movement when a few players got lost. Getting the orchestra back together was a bit of a struggle, but they kept going and eventually did get back on track. I hate to say I expected this, but after the rehearsals I pretty much thought this would happen. The music is tough and I am still learning as a conductor. I am not sure what could have been done to keep the orchestra together, however, I am pleased with my own performance in not letting it get me flustered and eventually getting them back on track.
There were some intonation problems too, but again, with an amateur orchestra this was expected.
I am pleased with the night. I do not think there is anything I could have done to make it more successful. There are things that I am taking away from this concert that will make the next one better, but for what we achieved, it was right on target.