Spring For Music is a concentrated festival of concerts by North American symphony and chamber orchestras presented annually at Carnegie Hall to broad music-loving audiences at affordable prices, sold through a unique marketing structure and with an artistic profile built around innovative and creative programs. The festival is designed to allow participating orchestras to showcase their artistic philosophies through distinctive and adventurous programming in one of the world’s most competitive musical environments. In concert presentation talks, each participating orchestra describes how that night’s program relates to its artistic philosophy. The festival becomes a musical laboratory with lively and attentive audiences that can foster greater innovation in each orchestra’s home market.
Spring For Music will present six concerts in 2012, from May 7 through May 12. Each year, all orchestras from the League of American Orchestras Groups I & II, including those that appear on a regular basis in New York plus those in Groups III & IV who have received ASCAP awards for the previous three years, are invited to make programmatic proposals reflective of their artistic philosophies. An annual overarching programmatic concept is not imposed on the participating orchestras; instead each festival will feature orchestras and their conductors in programs that embody their individual artistic principles and showcase their diverse talents. The festival does not insist on appearance exclusivity in the New York market, but does insist on program exclusivity in the New York market within the relevant concert season. All concerts are available via radio broadcast and live internet streaming so as to insure the widest possible national and international audience.
Spring For Music is artistically driven according to a clear statement of artistic philosophy:
Spring For Music provides an idealized laboratory, free of the normal marketing and financial constraints, for an orchestra to be truly creative with programs that are interesting, provocative and stimulating, and that reflect its beliefs, its standards, and vision. Spring For Music believes that an orchestra’s fundamental obligation is to lead and not follow taste. As such, programming needs to advance, and not just satisfy, expectations. An artistic point of view must infuse everything an orchestra does, with programs that not only reflect but validate that point of view. Great programs have imaginative, meaningful and deliberate thought behind the selection of pieces, the sequence of pieces, the program structure, and the presentation of pieces. This does not mandate a rigid program “theme” or simply a healthy dose of contemporary music; rather it reflects a stimulating mix of pieces, styles, artists and composers that engages the listener in an absorbing adventure – a journey that seduces, thrills, and moves, and where the program’s totality becomes greater than the sum of the individual pieces. A great program provokes gasps, sighs, tears or smiles, but above all creates a sense of the unexpected – the listener is never sure how it will actually turn out; it is imbued with an inherent risk of uncertainty.
Key program elements include originality of repertoire, sequence of pieces, individual program elements, programmatic structure, and concert production. Emphasis is placed on creativity, variety, innovation, and distinctive profile. In addition to their program proposals, orchestras are selected on the basis of quality of orchestra and conductor, orchestra’s and conductor’s most recent appearances at the festival, the relationship of the orchestra’s festival proposal to its overall institutional identity, and the balance of orchestras by geography and size.
The festival artistic director selects the orchestras and determines the programs in conjunction with the orchestras. To avoid any sense of “ownership,” no orchestra or conductor is eligible to participate in consecutive years.
Spring For Music debuted in May 2011. Orchestras for 2012 and 2013 have been chosen and the selection process for 2014 is underway. All seats are priced at $25 and sold on a first-come, first-served basis and a limited number of $10 seats for students will also be available. There are incentives for those who wish to go to several concerts: four for the price of three ($75) or all six for the price of four ($100). Each participating orchestra can buy up to 1,000 tickets at $25 on a non-refundable basis for resale in their home markets.
Each participating orchestra will receive the same fee. Spring For Music provides a new economic model for concert presenting in the busy New York market, one that not only fosters artistic expression beyond the limitations of the current financial model but one that will attract and excite new audiences for orchestral music because of its unique and accessible pricing structure. The compressed time period of Spring For Music provides this new public with the opportunity of comparative experiences with different orchestras, creating for the orchestras themselves a focused environment in which to excel.
Opus 3 Artists provides overall concert production and administration through David Foster and Leonard Stein, and makes all necessary contracts on the festival’s behalf. Thomas W. Morris, former executive director of The Cleveland Orchestra and current artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival, is artistic director. Mary Lou Falcone, prominent classical music public relations counsel, oversees festival publicity and media relations; Christopher R. Stager, experienced orchestra marketing executive and consultant, is responsible for marketing concerts. The festival is being undertaken with the full support and enthusiastic endorsement by Carnegie Hall through its executive and artistic director Clive Gillinson.
A new 501c(3) foundation was formed to present the festival. The board of directors includes Daniel R. Lewis, prominent arts patron from Miami, Florida, as chair; Lowell Noteboom, former chair of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and currently chair of the League of American Orchestras; Ara Guzelimian, Dean of the Juilliard School and former artistic advisor to Carnegie Hall; Catherine Gevers, formerly on the staff of Carnegie Hall and currently a free lance music producer; and Catherine French, former president of the League of American Orchestras and currently a prominent consultant/headhunter.
The festival is seeking total funding of $4.8 million, which will provide full support for the festivals in May 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Costs which need to be so underwritten include the rental of Carnegie Hall; all direct concert production costs; festival marketing and public relations; administrative, artistic, production and marketing personnel; and modest startup costs incurred in setting up the project. In consideration of receiving a set fee plus possible net profits from ticket sales, each participating orchestra provides the services of its orchestra, conductors and soloists (if any), plus all transportation, hotel and per diem costs for personnel and equipment, as well as costs of all musical preparation. To date, approximately $4 million in funding has been secured, with leadership support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Jan and Dan Lewis, Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, MetLife Foundation, the Irving Harris Foundation and the Edgemer Foundation.
Here’s what we learned in the S4M’s first two years (download comments from orchestra participants):
What does Spring For Music mean to participating orchestras?
- Provides a vehicle for orchestras to showcase their artistic creativity in a concentrated and highly competitive format in the world’s most renowned concert venue.
- Guarantees the highest in artistic creativity to be the discriminating variable for participation by providing financial equality for all orchestras.
- Provides a platform for orchestras to tell their story and demonstrate their artistic beliefs.
- Encourages greater creativity in programming and the option of considering artistic opportunities not otherwise possible.
- Provides a financially responsible and artistically significant alternative to New York vanity appearances, with potential for local, national and international exposure.
- Provides a production, artistic and marketing team to insure concerts are presented efficiently and professionally.
What does Spring For Music mean for the orchestra field?
- Provides a working laboratory for artistic experimentation in a highly competitive and visible environment.
- Provides a way to spark institutional artistic creativity not only for the festival but also for greater artistic innovation at home.
- Provides important exposure in the media capital of North America for symphony orchestras.
- Provides an ongoing picture of the vitality of orchestral life in American orchestras.
What does Spring For Music mean for New York’s musical life?
- Provides a greater presence for North American orchestras in Carnegie Hall.
- Provides a unique structure for concert presentations which encourages artistic creativity, experimentation and innovation.
- Provides a pricing structure which opens all Carnegie Hall seating locations to the widest possible audiences to encourage lively and engaged concert experiences.
- Provides a new and unique addition in New York’s concert season.