Blogging at the ESO
Last night was my third time attending the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) as a blogger. I find it refreshing that an organization often though of by the younger generation as high brow or stuffy is using new ways to market itself including Bloggers and Tweeters.
My fiance formerfatguy did live Twitter updates throughout the performance. We were seated with our backs to the concrete wall in a section with others doing the same, so none of the other symphony patrons were disturbed or even knew it was happening.
I grew up being exposed to classical music through family friends and I myself starting attending things like the ESO, Edmonton Opera and the Citadel in my early adult years. But many have had little or not exposure to this type of thing. So I think it’s great that the ESO is thinking outside the box to get new people to their performances.
We were treated very well as their guests with invitations to join the corporate champagne reception prior to the show. We were also encouraged to bring guests with us so we brought two guests – my mother and the student from Beijing that lives with us as he goes to University. He is also a musician and had never been to a western or classical event such as the ESO, so we wanted him to have that experience before he leaves to go back to China at the end of this month. He said it was “different” and he really enjoyed it. I watched him during the performance and many times he was sitting forward with his chin rested in his hands, watching and listening intently.
The ESO itself has a blog and we were interviewed afterwards for their You Tube channel as well. Very progressive! I don’t know if other arts venues and performers are utilizing today’s social marketing as well as the ESO is but I’d highly suggest it. There was a lot of “buzz” about what we were doing last night and the Tweeters had many interested replies and comments to their Tweets.
The performance itself was most enjoyable. I find the ESO’s conductor William Eddins a pleasure to watch and his MC interjections are informative, light and often quite witty. On this night it was the Lighter Classics and we heard from 4 guest performers/soloists.
Elizabeth Faulkner is a local musician who played her first solo performance with the ESO on the flute and piccolo. She did a fabulous job!
Keri Lynn Zwicker honored us with her harp playing abilities and even played one that was locally made from carbon fiber and is collapsible. She’s been an outdoor performer at the Fringe, with the band the Chieftans, and has played with the ESO as harpist as well as Saskatoon and Regina’s symphonies as well. She sang for us as well, a haunting Celtic tune that left the audience wanting more and Eddins pondering why they were also so sad.
Michael Massey on piano joined us after intermission for a piano concerto. He has been with the ESO for over 25 years and was inducted into the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame for his work and contributions through the Youth Orchestra here in Edmonton. Eddins said of him during his introduction – that as a conductor and pianist himself he shutters when he has to take on a new orchestra if the pianist is like this (he puts up his hands and demonstrates limp, wimpy wrists and hands) but he said the first time he saw Mr. Massey play he “laid it down” and he knew all would be well here.
The last featured performer was Raymond Baril on saxophone. Again Eddins said he fears putting in a musical piece that features the sax because if you don’t have a good soloist it can sound like a wounded dog – again he said we have nothing to worry about here. He was right, the piece Mr. Baril performed was perfect.
For the last piece of the evening Eddins handing over conducting duties to Mr. Massey who is also very capable in that realm, stating he was “taking the last piece off” due to him having been there since 6am and he was TIRED.
Overall I found the ESO experience very positive for all who attended (at least in our little group). I myself like the big bold pieces such as the William Tell Overture and the BRITTEN march which was right before intermission last night. But I find that pieces like songs from the movie Catch Me If You Can were extremely well done and I don’t recall ever seeing an orchestra snap their fingers. It was almost jazzlike and very enjoyable. One other blogger said it was very Gilbert and Sullivan like too.
So, something for everyone – if you haven’t been to the ESO I encourage you to try it. This year on April 2nd they did a FREE concert to launch the 2009-2010 season information and ticket sales. Eddins made sure to tell us about their unprecedented TWO FOR ONE seasons tickets special for all new subscribers for the upcoming season.