At Chamber Music Campania, our roundtable discussions extend beyond “the table” itself. For days now––between long rehearsals, after meals, during the so-called Italian pausa––the quintet, composers, and I have contemplated and re-visited questions about marketing, branding, audience engagement, and patron development. I cannot effectively summarize the content of our conversations in a single blog post, so instead I point to a couple significant themes.
The topic of “listening” continues to dominate our discussions, and happily, these discussions are directly informed by the quintet’s concert experiences. We have witnessed a complex, non-linear spectrum of listener identity, including: people who simply “hear,” deeply attentive audiences, and rowdy but still actively engaged Italians who heartily sing along to “Va pensiero.” This diversity of listener identities complicates otherwise simple definitions of “audience” and what constitutes “listening.”
The musicians presented several performance strategies that acknowledge the complexity of Italian listening culture, for example, providing the audience with a “multiple choice” program (e.g., “Do you want to hear an American piece or an Italian piece next?”). Mike (horn) discussed the importance of programming and audience engagement; he compared clever programming to an adventure in wine tasting––both should involve an array of sweetness and bitterness, wherein one taste prepares, contrasts, or complements the others.
We continue to explore these ideas and related topics in our upcoming roundtables about programming, the arts and economic sustainability, and music education.