Why attend a house concert?

Some time ago I blogged about getting people to come to a concert. As it was well received, I shall now pontificate over why anyone would want to attend a house concert.

Consider some barriers to entry:

  1. A house concert takes place in someone’s private home. If you don’t know the person or anyone else who is going, you may hesitate. Unless you have been to house concerts before, you will need some daring or encouragement.
  2. If the location is not in your neighbourhood, you may think twice about trying to get there.
  3. If it’s not free entry, you may wonder if the benefits outweigh the costs.

I’m not talking about a party where there is also music, food, drink, and pleasant company. By house concert, I refer to a planned event where people go with the expectation of live music performance. Food, drink, and pleasant company may also be present but these elements are not the main focus.

The first house concert I was invited to attend as a guest and performer was in Houston in early February 2001. The late pianist/composer Robert Avalon also encouraged me to invite others. It was a free concert of improvisation. Because I knew him and because I could invite people I knew, I was willing to change my flight so that I could participate. Notice that familiarity is very important to some people. I did not know the venue or the house owner but Robert spoke highly of her and wanted to introduce us.

Empty chairs before a house concert in Utrecht

Empty chairs before a house concert in Utrecht

a full house in Utrecht, Netherlands

a full house in Utrecht, Netherlands

Come to think of it, I have never been to a house concert where I didn’t know anyone. Usually I’m invited by the host, the performer, or someone who has been there before. Robert Avalon invited me to a house concert in Amsterdam in March 2002. I didn’t know anyone there. But I was curious after the wonderful experience in Houston. It was a free house concert in a city that coincided with a business trip. There were no barriers to entry.

On Sunday 17 December 2006, some 75 free house concerts took place in Utrecht. If I had heard of it sooner, I would have been visiting other people’s homes and attending concerts instead of organising my own. I found out too late. Ours was the only house concert that was not free but sold out — and not part of the monthly Cultural Sunday events organised for the city of Utrecht.

In my research into “house concerts: perspectives of multiple stakeholders, audience development, and sustainability” I asked guests of our house concerts why they keep coming back. One music aficionado said that he goes alone but knows that he will have a great time. “There will be interesting people there.” Could it be that house concerts attract interesting people?

…. to be continued…


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Filed under articles, audience, concert, research

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