the first two installments, we've discussed setting the tone of your
performance tour philosophy, as well as keeping the experience meaningful and
well-paced for your ensemble. In this section, we'll address expectations as
related to the performance experience itself.
This isn’t about musical preparation. This is about having a clear vision of
the type of performance experiences you want for your musicians. There are
three primary facets to this:
Setting. Consider the venue and how your group
will sound and be able to present themselves. You and your musicians work hard
to hone your craft and create beautiful performances with artistic merit. Don’t sell yourselves short! For example—does having your string orchestra, wind ensemble
or madrigal choir perform in a public space for whomever happens to
walk by present you in your best light? Will ambient noise or weather conditions detract from the quality of your work? Does it make the kind of statement you
desire to make about the importance of your program—and music education in general?
Cost. This is the difficult reality, and it is a
huge challenge in the performance travel industry. Most public performance venues--parks, plazas, or locations associated with an attraction--are free or inexpensive, and usually outdoors. They are also few and far between, and have the added challenge of on-site equipment needs. Concert venues of high
quality are usually a higher cost. The adage “you get what you
pay for” is more true here than in any other aspect of the
performance tour experience….the possible exception being sharing an
exchange concert or similar with a local ensemble who has access to a
remarkable location. An awareness of this will help you prioritize this facet
in your overall plan.
Artistic Merit. Is this a performance event designed
and executed by musicians with musical integrity at the heart of the event, or
created by an organization to generate travel revenue? Is this a selective “special invitation” performance
opportunity? Do your homework. What is the nature and selectivity of the event?
(Speaking for myself as an example—for every ensemble I would contact to
invite for Carnegie Hall performances, there were many, many more that I did
not.) I’m not saying one is necessarily better or
worse than another—they are just different and your “fit” all depends on what is important to the growth
and image of your program.
In speaking with travel planners at recent conferences, these items
present some of the biggest challenges to meaningful performance touring right
now. I anticipate that a solution to this will need to be achieved via a
collaborative creative effort involving ensemble conductors, travel planners,
festival organizers, tourism bureaus and arts organizations with access to
quality concert venues.
In the final installment of this series, we'll discuss ways to keep
the experience authentic for your musicians.