Last night I attended the first performance of The Ear, a new concept in New York City to attract new audiences to classical music.
It was excellent, and I highly recommend it. Their next show is Friday, 16 Nov 2018.
In the words of its creator, The Ear is:
like ‘The Voice’ for composers, but way rowdier. Nuttier. Irreverent. Cheering in the middle of the music. Heckling the emcee. Drinking. Voting for the pieces you want to hear again.
Review of The Ear in New York City
I attended The Ear’s first show last night on 20 September 2018.
It was hosted at the Dimenna Center for Classical Music, a beautiful modern tall-ceiling’d spot at 450 W 37th St near 9th Avenue in Manhattan.
My Friend Lauren Jelencovich
I attended this event with my friend Lauren, who is famous enough to have her own Wikipedia page.
Lauren tours the world singing as a soprano with Yanni. I learned something neat about her last night: she was the first woman to ever sing on a main stage in Saudi Arabia.
Special Thanks: Hampus Svard
Thanks to my friend Hampus, who I met through Áine, for inviting me.
The Concert: Opening Comedian
At 8:00pm after a 7:30p start time for The Ear, we were treated to a comedy set by Sally Ann Hall.
She was funny and really warmed the room up. Also risqué.
The event organizer took a big risk in starting the show with a comedian who wasn’t afraid to make politically incorrect jokes.
It paid off well. An opening like this can polarize an audience. And it can say, “This is who this event is NOT for.”
Introduction by Alf Bishai
Alf started The Ear because he wants to go to a concert hall to hear new classical music. He wants to hear music live and be able to jump to his feat and yell out, “Play it again!! Encore!!”
- The Ear is like The Voice for classical composers.
- They’ll present 10 composers.
- The audience votes for each by answering 1 simple question: Do you want to hear it again?
- He wants to do something different and unexpected with The Ear.
- Frustrated that nobody knows about current classical music composers. Hardly anyone in the audience could name a living classical music composer’s name.
Alf Bishai spoke about how most popular movies are scored with classical music, and we love those movies. But if you ask someone if they like classical music, they probably say No.
Analog Voting Devices: Vote For Your Favorite
Audience members were each given a small bag of marbles, like this:
After each micro performance, a collection tube would be passed around.
We could place a marble into that tube to cast our vote.
This was an excellent analog way to engage the audience. If they had used an app or something web-based, I think the audience would have “tuned out” and gotten distracted with our notifications.
The Performances: Great Music
Most of the songs we heard were nice. They were mostly a LOT better than I thought they would be.
One or two were losers. I did not vote for the losers, obviously.
Shattered Glass: Musicians
Most of the musicians performing were from an orchestra group called Shattered Glass. I liked that one of them said, “We think conductors are stupid.”
In 2012 a group of friends in New York City came together to form a conductorless string ensemble that was truly collaborative and self-operated…. In the spirit of collaboration, Shattered Glass members regularly rotate the role of principal player and participate in a democratic system for creating and selecting programs.
There were three judges who made funny and sometimes very insightful commentary after each of the ten performances.
These were more like commentators than judges, because they did not cast any votes.
The Professor, on the right, was particularly funny in his commentary. The audience laughed a lot. It was a great bit.
This was a great show.
I fall asleep a lot at classical music concerts. At The Ear, I never once felt tired. I wanted more.
The Ear’s next show is Friday, 16 Nov 2018. I am definitely going.
- The Ear: Classical Music, HOME PAGE
- The Ear Classical, INSTAGRAM
- The Ear: A Classical Reboot, FACEBOOK
- THE EAR on TWITTER