"Orchestras across America are having to find different ways to adapt the delivery of their core product, which is live symphonic classical music," says Jonathan Martin. "The traditional concert experience hasn't experienced any fundamental changes in 100 years. What has changed is how the public engages with this particular art form."
For young Americans, that engagement is largely nil. Which is exactly why the Dallas Symphony Orchestra created its ReMix series. Martin more readily describes these concerts as "experiences." The $19 ticket gets you general admission seats to a 70 minute program of music, plus one drink and hors d'oeuvres. And this weekend, there will be pre-concert karaoke.
"We're able to be more creative and inventive and to think differently about a program structure," says Peter Czornyj, DSO's director of artistic planning. "It lasts 70 minutes, no intermission. We don't have to perform a whole symphony. This week, essentially what we're showing is how song in its many different guises has shaped a lot of musical history."
The program features an array of music spanning from an overture from Mozart's opera Singspiel, Abduction from the Seraglio to Gerswhin's overture to the 1930 musical, Girl Crazy. Blending recognizable and slightly more obscure music served up under a unifying theme is what Martin hopes will be a recipe that lures in that new audience to the DSO. After all, he notes, it worked when he was working in Charlotte, NC, where he started a program called KnightSounds that functions similarly to ReMix.
"A higher percentage of people who show up to these concerts aren't as familiar with classical music than our core audience," says Martin. "If they're not coming for a particular piece of music than what is going to motivate them? We believe an experience that's engaging and fun."
And entering season two, it seems Remix has been exactly that. Not only is Martin quick to proclaim his pleasure with the series thus far, when our former classical music critic attended last season, she noted the series "serious potential," pointing out the generationally diverse audience, and desire to mingle after the performance. From her description the symphony actually sounds fun - something the majority of young professionals might find difficult to believe.
And they've shaken up a pretty delicious cocktail of a season this year. Kicking off this weekend with "Song of the Symphony." ReMix returns January 16 & 17 with a can't-miss presentation of "American Soundscapes," featuring Aaron Copland's familiar "Appalachian Springs," alongside John Adams' "Grand Pianola Music." It wraps up the season with "Hollywood Exlie," an entry in the inaugural Soluna Festival.
"We want people to have a good time and a good concert experience," says Czornyj. "It's a really nice night out."
Season two of ReMix kicks off with performances 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the City Performance Hall. Tickets are $19 and available at mydso.com.