A recent lecture given by Anthony Rooley (Consort of Musicke) had an important effect on me. Though the lecture centered around Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna (1608), as well as other works based on the same subject, an incredibly important point was raised. Artists should be engaging with their audiences on more levels than purely musical. "Give them a story," he said.
Interestingly enough, by the end of the lecture we had heard enough music to encapsulate a concert and walked away with a much deeper understanding of the circumstances surrounding the centrepiece work, as well as discovered numerous other works directly referencing Monteverdi's setting. We covered the entire myth of Arianna at Naxos as well as another, that of Leander and Hero, and covered settings of those works which were isolated from the Italian settings.
Though, of course, it was presented in a manner befitting a classroom, it wouldn't be difficult to convert it for a concert-going public. Indeed, I assume this lecture came about from the Lamento D'Arianna project by the Consort of Musicke c.1990.
Crucial is it for us at this moment to make a concert 'relevant', what better way than this? Create a narrative, appealing to both the intellectual and the emotional, providing an event with an inherent cultural value beyond just another broadly-themed concert.