Scoop: Beatles, Queen, the Dead...

April 14, 2009
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If you're looking for classical music at Conner Prairie this summer, well, you'd better look carefully.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's soon-to-be-announced northside season is heavy on pop access, low on the traditional classical cannon. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Depends on what you are looking for from your symphony.

The season kicks off with a June 20 concert of Grateful Dead tunes, continues the following week with music from the Harry Potter films, and then hits the usual 4th of July weekend notes.

July 10-11 brings ISO violinist Zach de Pue and his brothers for a Time for Three set, followed the next weekend by the Prairie debut of maestro Mario Venzago.

It gets lighter again on July 24-25 with the music of Billy Joel, then a Beatles cover group doing the "Classical Mystery Tour."

Aug. 7-8 brings a "Mozart by Moonlight" program. Then it's back to the top-40 with a Queen tribute on Aug. 14-15.

As is usual, the ISO turns the stage over to other groups for the final concerts of the season. This time, it's Rockapella on Aug. 21-22, the Glenn Miller Orchestra on Aug. 28-29, a performance by '70s and '80s hitmakers America on Sept. 3-4 and, finally, the River City Brass Band on Sept. 5-6.

At least, that's what I've heard. Tickets go on sale April 27, so don't bug the box office yet.

So what do you think of the summer season? Smart commercial moves in tough economic times or pandering too much to the pop crowd?

Your thoughts?
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  • The arts should endeavor to elevate the spirit, not appeal to the lowest common denominator. But money is everything these days. The Symphony will reap what they sow.
  • Is it bad I thought of the Falco song Rock Me Amadeus (YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trOij8SPIAo) when I read the part about the Amadeus movie tribute? (Or maybe that's still in my head from watching Adventureland)

    Personally I prefer to see tribute bands in bars/clubs for a low cover--which is also, weirdly, part of Adventureland--but that's just me. I'm interested to see what kind of turn out they get.
  • Let's not forget that those who want to hear classical symphonic pieces - have the ISO entire classical series downtown. I don't think the ISO is pandering to the lowest common denominator. I actually think that sentiment is somewhat rude - should those of us who are looking forward to Wicked coming to town be shunned b/c it just happens to be popular, or should the Opera be scolded for picking performances such as La Boheme. I think the ISO being smart about their venue location and appealing to a niche market. I think they use a business model similiar to the Hollywood Bowl - in an effort to attract families, young professionals, groups - niche groups that are different than the traditional ISO subscriber.

    If we've learned anything about the ISO this year - it's that they need to find a new audience, a new level of supporters - otherwise they're going to draw too much down on their endowment and there won't be an ISO around for anyone!
  • It has been difficult to find truly classical music throughout several of the past Symphony on the Prairie seasons. Even the swing performers didn't sway me the past two years to attend SOP - bring back Big Bad Voodoo DaddyI
    Lou, I think this, in part, is what was behind the scenes in the blog that our friend dogged Indy and touted the greatness of the Cleveland Symphony. Yes, he/she was over the top, but the whole Art Garfunkel appearance (and others like it) make me cringe. So, yes, to answer one of the questions you posed, they are dumbing down content to attract ??? i guess baby boomers who would rather die than hear Beethoven? Don't get me wrong, I am not a complete classical snob; I loved the programming of SOP when they've done classics from movie scores, including Star Trek and the like. A few years back one of the SOP perfomances was the childhood music of Mozart (music he composed as a child) - the number of little ones dancing to that music was angelic. Plus, the conductor was quite engaging with the audience. Personally, that's the approach I'd like to see to attract those not-so-classically inclined.
  • I am having trouble finding fault with a business model that attracts non-tradtional customers during what is considered an off season. I don't believe that this line-up will convert this target group into classical series customers, but I'm not sure it is supposed to. If anything it is designed to bring these Prairie customers back for the next Prairire season. Seems like a win for the ISO.
  • Rockapella? That is terrific news! A diverse group, their appeal is almost universal. They've been featured with the likes of the Boston Pops. If you have yet to see Rockapella, mark your calendar. Their show is unique, humurous, musical and appeals to All American family gatherings. Don't miss them.

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