Saturday, October 29, 2011

No News is Bad News

An article on the Thirteen Strings was published in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday and I couldn't help but to be reminded of the serious challenges there are to the music scene in ottawa.

Last week my ensemble, Ensemble Our Very Own, had its first public concert (sponsored by Ars Nova) on period instruments. Two excellent baroque flutists from Toronto as well as our soprano Anna-Sophie from Montreal came to perform with two other locals and I in a special program of French music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

What was an excellent concert and week of rehearsals was marred by poor support from the local media and a smaller-than-expected, albeit very supportive and enthusiastic, audience. What did the Citizen cover instead? The Ottawa Choral Society's African Sanctus. Needless to say, I took a hit financing the show.

Rare is the occasion for more than three concerts of classical music to occur on one Friday evening, two is common as the NACO performs most weekends,  therefore a conflict is unavoidable. What am I saying!? YOU (if you're reading from out of town) have a CHOICE of what you want to go see every weekend! Why should there even be a discussion about scheduling conflicts in a city of 1 million+ people? And let's get real, classical music production companies in Ottawa, we are not fighting over the same 1000 concert-goers on a given evening. Ottawa is a grown-up city and it can handle more than two concerts at a time.

Let's say one percent of Ottawa's population is interested in classical music concerts - that's ten thousand people. The problem is that only one percent of the population that is aware of the concert in question is going to be interested in it. Unfortunately, there is no way to make every person living in the region aware of an event, not without a few million dollars at least. So you can understand the necessity of print article for an up-and-coming group, such as the OVO, in Ottawa.

And now to the point. When you, the arts columnist, see a group of young, extremely talented musicians performing in a premiere concert of music rarely heard in the city; would you see it as much more newsworthy than a bunch of old fogies singing a piece they've performed several times before?


  1. Hi Andrew. I'm sorry your performance didn't get a large turnout, and I'm sure it was well performed.

    Might I propose an addendum to one of your points about securing your ensembles future? Item 1 on the list in Part 1 is to have a blog or website.

    I would suggest that you actively promote your shows on every medium you have available that you can afford.

    I just finished looking over your October posts, and there was one small mention of the concert, in a post that I wouldn't have read because I am not in an ensemble, and not likely to be (I have the type of musical ability that lets me sit and listen, and that's about it).

    I'm not saying that I would definitely have gone had you made a separate post about the concert, but if I don't know about it, I can guarantee that I won't be there.

  2. Hi Nigel,

    Thank you very much for your comment. You're absolutely right that I should use every medium available to promote my ensemble.

    I was hesitant to promote the concert on this blog because I am sometimes quite opinionated here and I don't want those opinions being linked with the OVO. Maybe I'm over-thinking the whole thing?


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