Redefining the Concert Hall Experience

Each generation of concert-going audiences have memories of their personal experiences and exposure to orchestral music. My early experiences involved boarding a yellow school bus and traveling to Orchestra Hall to hear the Chicago Symphony perform their Music is the Message programs. As a conductor, I retain warm memories of staging a variety of children’s concerts and Halloween costume concerts for local audiences, which at the time included my own two children. Each year, my children and their friends anxiously awaited the program’s theme and afterwards not only discussed their favorite costumes and characters but also their favorite musical excerpts. These programs typically involve the conductor talking to and interacting with the audiences and the repartee often evolves into delightful banter. This interaction from the podium is certainly not a new idea and we find landmark examples of these presentations in the 1950’s and 60’s with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Here a youthful Bernstein discusses the meaning of music. (Note the children in semi-formal attire.)


Over the decades, these interactive programs have become more intricate and creatively utilize a variety of collaborative artistic forces. As the exchange of information develops at hyperspeed we can also see the development of this multi-media concert format involving actors, narration, and projected video. The Chicago Symphony’s Beyond the Score programs involve all of these components and are produced at the highest quality. On November 16, at 3 PM the Quincy Symphony Orchestra will present the CSO’s Beyond the Score edition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s brilliant Sheherazade. This special event unites symphony orchestra, two actors and video projection to give the audience a historical perspective on the genesis of Rimsky-Korsakov’s colorful masterpiece. After you attend this unique production, let me know YOUR ideas about the multimedia experience in your own local concert hall.

Bruce Briney, Music Director, Quincy Symphony Orchestra, November 2013