Picture this: you’re performing incredible repertoire, there’s a big audience, and afterward you even get paid. You open your eyes and what do you see? Carnegie Hall? Nope. You’re performing in a museum, a brewery, someone’s living room.
Don’t get me wrong, performing a solo recital at Carnegie Hall is still an absolute dream, but what if you could give a successful performance where your audience takes away something meaningful AND they also feel comfortable?This is why nontraditional performance spaces are not just the way of the future, but right now!
People are starting to realize that there is a greater need for more accessible classical music. One of the biggest stigmas I have heard from non-classical musicians is that they feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, don’t understand the music, and/or it’s boring. That is awful! Think of a time you walked into a room and felt any of those same feelings - would you go back? Probably not. So rather than trying to force people to go somewhere they don’t feel comfortable, let's bring the music to them. In fact, in the 19th Century musicians use to perform chamber music in the homes of the upper-middle class, also known as parlor music. If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are there might be an organization in place that will provide a performance space, audience members, and market your event! Attendees can bring drinks, sit in comfy chairs or criss cross applesauce on the floor, socialize with other concert-goers, and have an overall more laid back experience where they don’t fear that they will be yelled at if they clap at the wrong time.
If there isn’t an organization in place to coordinate performances, you have all of the power to make that happen yourself! Collaboration is a huge component to success. Find a local business and pitch a performance to them - this can include places like restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, farmers markets - the possibilities are endless. By performing in a location that’s outside the norm, you are creating an opportunity to interact with a new audience. Sure, the acoustics might not be totally ideal, but you’re exposing classical music to people who may not typically go to the symphony. Want to expand your audience even more? Perform works by local composers (and invite them!), collaborate with other local artists, dancers, storytellers, etc. Visuals will greatly impact your audience’s experience and make you a more well rounded artist.
PRO TIP for the performance: engage your audience. Talk to them about the piece before you perform, share the different emotions they might experience, find a way for them to connect to what you are playing, and close the gap between performer and listener - we’re all in this together.
The world is your stage, now go make music!