Today five virtuoso musicians met for the first time. Quartet San Francisco (QSF) was warming up in Gilman Chapel in Cedar Grove Cemetery. They had just driven up from Rhode Island where they were staying for a string workshop and concert at the university in their concert tour of Rhode Island, Boston, Lexington, and Martha’s Vineyard.
Robert Bekkers, who gave the inaugural concert of this new concert series, walked into the church and shook hands with them. He and Jeremy Cohen, founder and leader of QSF, had corresponded by e-mail after my introduction. One member of my ukulele pluck ensemble had told me about QSF, and after watching their videos, I was hooked.
Continue reading “When musicians meet, they play together”
Independent third party reviewers or previewers act as external validation which is great for publicity for house concerts and salon concerts.
House concerts, salon concerts, private concerts …. these are all live music gatherings in someone’s home which can be one-off, ad hoc, or occur at a regularity that can be labeled a concert series.
Over the years I have attended, performed, and produced many such events in the UK, Netherlands, and the USA. One topic I neglected to mention in my paper “House Concerts for Art Music” is external validation. In some ways external validation doubles up as publicity.
External validation, loosely defined, is having someone else put a stamp of approval on what you do. When I worked as a magazine editor, I received a lot of enquiries from new product vendors and service providers who wanted to tell me about their business. If I wrote something about it, I would be giving them publicity and a seal of approval. For this reason, concert reviewers are very important for performers and concert producers.
In my years of producing house concerts, I have never succeeded in getting a local newspaper to come and review a concert. In hindsight, these concerts, although open to the public, might have been too private for the space was small and the occasion “one-off.”
Publicity and public endorsement would make it easier to market the next concert. I wondered if other concert producers felt the same about the need for external validation. Short of getting a reviewer or previewer, I asked my guests to sign guestbooks and send in their comments which I could use to market the next concert.
Recently I read an article about Margaret Sewell’s Salon Concerts in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although I have never met Margaret or attended her concerts, her invitations were so compelling that I decided to write about concert invitations in a blog post. Reading the article about her concert series made me even more curious — a different experience from visiting her lovely website.
Solution? Get to know journalists and writers who love to attend salon concerts. I am one of those. Unfortunately I am not independent enough to write about my own concerts for external validation.
What is in a name? Home concert, house concert, salon concert, huisconcert, … does it make any difference if it’s established or not? How much can you charge and still get people to attend a concert in your home?
First I used “home concerts” for live foreground music that gets performed and heard in one’s home. In Dutch, home is “huis” — pronounced like house in English. When I moved to the Netherlands, I used “huisconcerten” or “house concerts” instead of “home concerts” to promote concerts in the home.
In the USA, I noticed people using “salon concerts” — and decided to investigate this further.
When I google “salon concerts” I get what looks like an established concert series called Salon Concerts. There is a link to a nice article called “Chamber music finds its modern home.” Scrolling down, I see that the ticket price begins at $40.
How much to charge for house concerts? This is the question many hosts and performers have asked. If Salon Concerts can charge $40 and get a full house, why can’t anyone charge $40? Instead, I’ve heard reactions such as
I can’t charge my friends.
I can’t expect people to pay more than $10.
The economy is bad. People won’t come if we charge more than $10.
Let’s make it free and ask people to donate.
How much do we charge to make sure we get a full house? If we charge too much, we get empty seats.
If we change the name of house concerts to salon concerts, create a professional website, get media attention, can we then charge more than $10 per person? Maybe then, it becomes affordable to run a concert series from the home.
Download the 14-page paper presented at the International Cultural Economic conference in Copenhagen, 2011: “House concerts for art music: multiple stakeholders, audience development, and sustainability“