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My Night At The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

On Saturday, April 10, 2010, The St Louis Symphony Orchestra hosted St. Louis bloggers for “Bloggers Night 4.”  Eddie Silva and Dale Fisher of the SLSO invited my wife and I to join them for the evening, and here is my “pre-game show” video as we’re driving to Powell Symphony Hall (with cinematography by Wifey):

We heard a fine slate of music, including:

PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 7
JOHN ADAMS Doctor Atomic Symphony

I am a regular listener to KFUO here in St. Louis, and KDFC in San Francisco.  As a business blogger and Heavy User of Social Media, I took a view of the night from those perspectives.  Additionally, I enjoyed a very personal, quiet night out with my wife, which is worth more than anything.

We listened to a pre-concert talk with SLSO Music Director David Robertson.  While an esoteric discussion for a mere casual listener of classical music, hearing the passion in David’s voice conveyed everything I needed to hear.   He shared an amazing story about the Prokofiev piece to be played by violinist Gil Shaham.  It seems that he and Gil were to play this piece over 20 years ago in Israel but were unable to secure the proper musical score.  It was a thrill for them to finally play Prokofiev together.

SLSO President Fred Bronstein has been working to increase attendance and bolster the Symphony’s finances, and I started thinking about the SLSO’s “buyer personas” – who attends the Symphony, and why? Random thoughts:

  • The digital world: 300 cable channels, 24 hour news cycle, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, emails, texts…. if we’re not careful, our brains are going to turn to scrambled eggs.  I’m on Twitter and email 365 days a year. I was even checking my email while in Tuscany. Attending a symphony performance forces you to slow down, breathe, and listen.  Even during the most frenzied piece of classical music, sitting in Powell Symphony Hall by yourself or with a loved one is very soothing.  Amongst a crowd, you can be by yourself. We need more of this!
  • While it may seem like a waste of time to bring a child (“They’ll never enjoy it… they’ll get bored…”), just remember that they will get equally bored doing almost anything you do with them.  Here’s one major bonus the symphony offers: no beer-drinking crazy people behind you, cursing and yelling (I’m talking to you, Rams and Blues!).  You can barely take a child to a sporting event anymore without obnoxiously loud public address announcers, intoxicated people sitting around you, and enough foul language to make Notorious B.I.G. blush. Long story short – it can be a nice night out for your family. (Idea: a seating section for families, so moms and dads don’t have to feel self-conscious about keeping their kids whisper quiet and completely under control).
  • Most of all, Bloggers Night is a bloody brilliant marketing idea. Eddie and the SLSO are reaching out to a very passionate and sometimes influential group of people.  And we’re writing about the Symphony, we’re telling others we went, we’re proud that we were guests of Eddie, we’re providing inbound links to the SLSO website, and we’re likely to return.  Quite genius!

All in all, a very wonderful night, and I think the SLSO reaps benefits from the outreach, as well.  Thanks again to Dale and Eddie for the opportunity to attend. Cheers!

VERY RANDOM POSTSCRIPT: If we started the world over again, from the very beginning, do you think the tuba would have been invented?  In today’s world, I wonder what musical instruments we have yet to invent. (The sorts of things one thinks about while quietly sitting at the symphony!)

POSTSCRIPT PART DEUX: It seems like the most stressful part of being an orchestra member is having to turn the page of music while playing.  Orchestra members need giant-sized iPads that brilliantly display the musical score and automatically flip the page forward on-screen.  Computerize this!


  1. Now that would be a useful iPad app hehe…Ye, good idea by the SLSO to host an evening..if only there were places that would do something like that here…we're still in the stone age with regards to social media views – pretty frustrating…keep up the good good BME..

  2. Great thoughtful post, Chris. I especially liked your thoughts on tuning out our constantly connected world: “Attending a symphony performance forces you to slow down, breathe, and listen.” Glad you came out for BN4 – Dale @ the SLSO.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Re. your PS Part 2: Harry Connick Jr beat you to the concept:

    Glad you enjoyed yourself at the SLSO!

  4. A family section would be wonderful! My husband and I have wanted to take the kids to one of the family shows but haven't made it yet. I also appreciate your comments about being connected all the time to the digital world. I tried to disconnect as much as possible on a recent vacation and found it to be very calming & realized I need to take smaller moments to disconnect and allow my mind to open up to the outside world. I'm inspired to have a date with the husband to the SLSO!

  5. Very smart of them to have a “bloggers night” — good “buzz building” marketing.

  6. Huge thanks for the invite. It was a memorable night

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