Reaching new audiences made simple
Dean Dixon was the real introducer in my life to great music when he conducted the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in the 50s. I was a young boy then and got a free ticket for "the School concerts" in our famous Concert Hall. He made a great pedagogic show and introduced us to Benjamin Britten's The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra. But also - I remember - did a funny show to de-dramatize the role of the conductor. "Now I will show you the importance of the conductor", he said, starting up the Ruslan and Ludmilla overture. After a few bars he left his place, walked down and passed all the way to the back of the hall. Then he slowly re-entered, in time to close the score. "Now you have seen the importance of the conductor", he said. As you see - still a vivd memory. Thanks Dean.Just added to Dean Dixon - I owe him a huge debt by Åke Malm. Did anyone mention the lost art of the animateur?
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But do spoken introductions by the conductor or soloist at mainstream concerts help attract new audiences?
I am not a huge fan of words before the music because spoken intoductions are difficult to pull off and if not done well can do more harm than good. But, coincidentally, Henning Kraggerud delivered introductions before the Britten Sinfonia's chewy contemporary programme in Norwich on Sunday and the audience, many of who were unfamiliar with the music, loved it.
It will be interesting to see if Henning retains the spoken links for the BBC Radio 3 live broadcast of the same programme tomorrow evening (Oct 7).