Wednesday, November 09, 2005

our communications lunch, our selves

"Are you telling me you'd like me to turn you into South Beach celebrities?"

I forget what inspired that question, but the person asking it was Marc Fest, the New World Symphony's vice president of communications, without any hint of sarcasm. The occasion was a lunch meeting for the communications department, but Marc and his colleagues used it as an opportunity to listen to what the orchestra's musicians had to say. Marc seemed open to even the most outlandish suggestions, yet I was surprised by how thoughtful and media-savvy everyone's comments were.

Of course it should come as no great surprise that there are a lot of innovative, creative personalities among 70+ orchestral musicians. The NWS marketing strategy has increasingly emphasized the individual musicians of the orchestra, singling out fellows in programs, on the website, even on the walls of the Lincoln Theatre (Adam and Ebonee, pictured above). People actually seemed quite open to this kind of packaging of our selves, even offering ideas for working more of our personal lives into the orchestra's publicity. Some even suggested embedding a journalist or filming a reality show at the hotel where we live, to give a feel for what life in the orchestra is really like. I think they were good friend Piotr suggested the format could be something like "Blind Date."

Whether or not Piotr gets his wish, it seems inevitable that orchestras will have to grow with the changing media landscape, and that musicians will need to find new ways to engage with audience members. I guess that hella frisch is my humble attempt at a public media outlet, without actually appearing in public. Speaking of which, I have to thank Marc Fest for his ringing endorsement of this blog, which may have caused my face to blush an unusual shade. Whenever someone tells me they've read this, I'm not sure whether to be more delighted or mortified. In the end, I think I'll pass on being a South Beach celebrity, at least for now - it's always nice to be asked, though. Posted by Picasa


Naomi Gray said...

Hi Matt...

I should be going to bed, but as usual, I'm procrasting sleeptime by aimlessly grazing the internet...was rereading my emails and saw Marc Fest's allusion to yours and thought I would check it out.
Nice blog. I bookmarked it. (If you'd allow German ist doch nicht perfekt, aber...isn't it supposed to be "Er macht das frisch?" [rather than er machen das frisch]...unless there is some case that I don't have under my belt.)
I'm looking forward to your comments on Oliver Knussen. Btw, what is the working pronounciation of that?
My most brilliant attempt at the cartoon thus far, although maybe it's a better candidate for the anti-contest:
"The audience got a sudden sinking feeling when they realized that the New World chamber music performance they'd come to hear had been deftly transformed into the fellows' campaign to hasten the replacement of the Lincoln Theater."

That's enough of my brilliance for one evening.

Matt Heller said...

Thanks Naomi!

Such erudite and well-informed commenting has rarely been visited on hella frisch, especially around sleeptime.

- The line 'er machen das frisch!' and the title of the blog itself both come from the advertising campaign of a German bottled water company, Hella, my main source of hydration one happy summer I spent in Germany. It's been a while, though, and I may very well have misremembered that slogan.

- My pronunciation of "Knussen" is probably no more authoritative than my German verbal declension - for what it's worth, I like saying it with a good hard "k". We seem to be having good success just calling him "Olli" though.

- I like the idea of the musicians' insurrection by monster truck, but you may be stretching the '25 words or less' rule. Maybe something like: "Don't worry, the show will go on - we just couldn't find any street parking near Lincoln Road."

Your brilliance and editing advice are much appreciated!

El Bandito said...


El Bandito strikes again!