Funen house concert in Amsterdam

The summer periods are the most difficult to get a full house for indoor concerts. The weather makes the decisions for them. It was a cloudy about-to-rain-any-moment day on Sunday 25th July 2010. Maybe people would suspend their plans for the beach and come to our concert in Amsterdam —- that was our hope.

Three days before the concert, I called the owners and producers of Funen Concerts Art Productions. No one had e-mailed or called to reserve. A year ago July half of the composers we had invited for our contemporary music concert were on holiday. This year was no different. July is a difficult month for house concerts, we concluded. [Elderly homes and hospitals are another story.]

Inside the bedroom where we waited for the clock to strike 3 pm, Robert and I looked at each other with similar thoughts. We didn’t hear a stampede of people nor a queue for tickets. We did not tell our friends they had to reserve in advance. It’s that painful “nobody knows” principle of concerts —- the demand is uncertain.

One of our friends had bought train tickets from Nijmegen to come to the concert but discovered there were no trains to Arnhem for the entire month. He had called to tell us that he could not get there on time. Much later, we learned that two other friends living in Amsterdam had started their journey 45 minutes early but could not find the location. We had not heard a yes from anybody else that we had invited.

The thought of walking to an empty room was terrifying.

Empty chairs before a concert

Empty chairs before a concert

At 3:10 pm, the co-owner and co-producer Erik tapped on the door to signal us to begin the concert.

To our surprise, the house was full. 22 paid guests, we learned. Excited to see four familiar faces, I welcomed the guests.

“We begin with Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. I was looking for a good arrangement for piano duet for my trip to Helsinki last November. What’s that? Robert asked. It sounded exciting, he said. But I didn’t have an arrangement for piano and guitar. No problem, he said. I’ll have it arranged by the time you come back.”

True to his word, this arrangement was waiting for me. It’s from the third act in Handel’s oratorio Solomon.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo ends their one-hour concert at Funen Park, 25 July 2010

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo ends their one-hour concert at Funen Park, 25 July 2010

After the one-hour concert, we mingled with the guests. One couple said they spotted in the newspaper there was a concert today, so they came from Noordwijk to see us. Another came from the Hague. Not everyone was local, it seemed.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo with audience after a concert in Funen Park

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo with audience after a concert in Funen Park

What I love most about house concerts is the opportunity to talk to the guests afterwards. With an intimate crowd such as this, it was possible to chat with nearly everyone. I recognised a couple from last year’s concert. We didn’t have CDs to sell or sign then.

Robert Bekkers leaves Funen park with bouquets and fond memories

Robert Bekkers leaves Funen park with bouquets and fond memories



Filed under audience, concert, economics, venues

4 responses to “Funen house concert in Amsterdam

  1. Hi Anne and Robert! If only I could have beamed me up to Amsterdam 🙂 Going by train to Amsterdam from Nijmegen is much like a trans Sahara expedition this month…
    Nice to read it was an intimate and succesful concert with more people who weren’t locals from Amsterdam!
    I like the last picture with Robert: it is a good example of an image one could visualize for this creative spiral step 2 mental training. (And not only the image, also the scent of the flowers, the memories of positive comments&applause, the temperature etc.) Then, in the mind’s eye, the building can be tranformed into the Bolshoi Theatre, the poster announcing: БЄККЕРC ДУО…
    Try it! 🙂
    Cheers Rolf

  2. Great story, as always. Having seen the pic of all empty seats I was surprised with 22 attendees, as you were.

    So what have we:
    * weather makes people opportunistically decide, as does their gusto of the sunday, while it’s deploying
    * there’s a loss (of expected esteem) if one does not show up after having made a reservation with you or the people of the tiny (homelike) venue

    I think that’s why people don’t make reservations – it is too close, too confronting to stay away if they eventually choose to. But… the number of seats is very limited, and they know, so deciding to come without a reservation is a real risk! That is a reason for people not to dare to decide to go. In the end, you were very lucky with those 22!

    I conceive a system of anonymous reservation making, anonymous in a sense that people don’t feel afraid to not show up. Does this make psychological sense to you?

    • Well-observed, Ton.

      If we think about this from an options point of view, reserving a seat without the obligation to pay at the same time (i.e. when the reservation is made) is the same as getting a seat for free and thus “hoarding” it from someone else.

      The cost of the option to the holder is the moral obligation of showing up and paying for the seat OR ELSE risk ruining one’s reputation.

      The cost to the concert producer is that the reserver might not show up and lose revenue.

      The cost to the producers of a no show is high if this turns away people who try to reserve but it’s full.

      If it’s free to reserve AND free to not show up (i.e. anonymous reservation with no reputation risk), then everybody would do it.

      Put it another way, there has to be a charge for this option. The charge would be the cost of the seat, i.e. a reservation is not a reservation without prepayment in full. If you don’t show up, the seat has been paid for. If you know you won’t show up, sell or give it to someone else. I think audience development and capacity management are intricately related.

      Some cancellation policy has to be in place. Some concert producers want the reservation but not the prepayment, for it involves additional cost (i.e. cost of monitoring that the payment has been made, cost of collection, etc.)

  3. Pingback: Birthday concert in Amsterdam | Concert Blog

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