Inside the Houston Symphony

Taking you behind the music–one concert at a time!

Posts Tagged ‘Broadway

Broadway really does Rock!

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You don't even have to leave Houston to get a taste of Broadway this weekend!

So, when looking around the conference room during a recent marketing meeting, our resident blog expert rested her eyes on me and said “YOU should right a blog for Broadway Rocks!”  Broadway Rocks, in case you are wondering, is the first POPS concert of the Houston Symphony’s 2010-2011 Season.  It opens this Friday, September 3rd.  The concert includes songs from what we are calling “the latest generation” of Broadway musicals.  The NEW classics (pardon the oxymoron).  Things like Wicked, Rent, Mamma Mia! and The Lion King.  Of course, there are some golden oldies.  How could you do a Broadway concert without a little Phantom of the Opera and the like?

Why did she suggest I write the blog about Broadway Rocks, you ask?  Well, because I am the just the biggest musical theater geek in this entire organization.  My conversations regularly are snippets of Broadway songs that are sung at whomever I’m addressing at the moment.  My belief is that it is a lot more fun to sing and dance your way through your everyday life.  It’s either that, or the fact that I did marketing for an organization that brought touring Broadway shows to local markets, and I worked there for many years.

Julia Murney, who played Elphaba in "Wicked" on Broadway, will be one of the featured vocalists this weekend.

One of the perks of my former job was that once a year, I was “required” to go to New York for a week and see as many shows as I could.  I know…such torture!  So, I’ve had the privilege to see many of the shows that are going to be featured in the upcoming Broadway Rocks concert.  When we first talked about programming this concert, my true colors were seen probably for the first time.  I was new at the time, and when this concert was mentioned, I started to grin and wiggle in my seat.  I couldn’t wait to hear what shows we were going to feature.  And I was NOT disappointed.  And imagine my near accident inducing excitement when I learned that Julia Murney who WAS Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway and on tour is going to be here to perform with the orchestra!  It is going to be so amazing to have her and the other Broadway stars with us to perform this music.

So yeah, I’m a little geeked out by this upcoming concert, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  I have been that girl that stands at the stage door after a show to get my program signed when the cast emerges, and that’s okay.  Part of what I love about the Houston Symphony is that we have something for everyone to enjoy, whether it is a Beethoven, the Music of Led Zeppelin or even a little slice of heaven like Broadway Rocks.  Of course that is my slice of heaven, but to each his own.  If this is not up your alley, then I can guarantee we have something that you will enjoy.  And please don’t judge me, “I Am What I Am!”

The first person to comment with the name of the Broadway show I just referenced will win a pair of tickets to Broadway Rocks!

Are you Classical or are you Pops?

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Music Director Hans Graf

So, as I understand it, this blog is meant to put the reader inside the Houston Symphony team, so you can see what we are all about.  It is with that in mind that I write the following …

I have been with the Houston Symphony for about 6 months as the Director of Marketing, Subscriptions.  Before that I worked at another arts organization that shall remain nameless.  Now, while I am a person who does not listen to classical music in my down time, although I will admit that I own and listen to the Mozart Makes You Smarter CD, it has been a part of my life since I was a young girl.

My family is very musical.  My grandfather was the tenor in a barbershop quartet, and both of my parents played instruments in high school and college.  My dad started out as a piano major in college, but switched to an engineering degree once he realized the implications of being a “starving artist.”  And while all of my siblings have ended up in the arts in some way, I went the musical path and went to college to be a music major.  I studied classical music, and became familiar with much of the beautiful repertoire the Houston Symphony plays.  While I was not an instrumentalist, but a vocalist, I spent many semesters in Music History classes, instrumental recitals given by friends and countless hours of sitting in darkened theaters listening to the instrumental classical repertoire.  I will admit, to the disdain of many classical music enthusiasts, that it was not my first choice in musical genre.  Yes, my goal from the very beginning was Broadway.  I wanted to be in Musical Theatre so bad, I could taste it!

So why in the world was I accepted to the very prestigious music school that did not have a single musical theatre class instead of the school that was renowned for that very thing?  Turns out I don’t have the Broadway voice that I coveted, but was very well suited to singing classical music.  So that is what I was taught.  It was an extremely rewarding experience in my life, and I still sing classical repertoire.  But, like my father, I believed my talent was not to the point that I could be anything other than a “starving artist.”  And that is what led me to go into the business side of the Performing Arts.

So, to finally get to the point, I ended up with a strange inner struggle between my love and devotion to Broadway and my admiration and respect for the caliber of music in the classical world.  The good news is I am able to really identify with both the classical and the pops genres that are the Houston Symphony products.  I was not surprised to learn that most people usually drift toward either the classical or the pops side, and I am some sort of hybrid because I like both.  I feel a kinship with those subscribers who have both the classical and the pops series, few though they may be.

Principal Pops Conductor Mike Krajewski

In the marketing world, we try to identify what motivates both the classical and pops buyers.  I find it extremely interesting that the patrons for those two genres are motivated differently.  It is an amazing challenge to try to touch the right points with each potential patron depending on the genre of music they are more likely to have an interest in.  Even though I have only been with the Symphony for a short time, I have the feeling that this challenge is going to be a part of my professional career here for a very long time.  It is one thing I enjoy about the work so much.  My colleagues and I have a hunger to learn about our patrons and what is relevant to them.  What drives them to like one type of music over another, and ultimately, how can I reach them with a message they will act on?  How do I know that one particular person will respond to a concert like Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony versus a concert like Broadway Rocks!?  There are several ways we have identified so far, but I am determined that I will always be asking this question, and always seeking more answers.

In the end, the Houston Symphony has both products, plus several others like the Family and Summer Concert Series’, so we can reach out to the entire city, and hopefully have something everyone will enjoy.  Music is so important, and to be a part of an organization that reaches such a variety of musical tastes is extremely rewarding to me.  Now, on to my challenge of reaching the masses with our message of “We have something for YOU” in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them, and will hopefully lead to more people coming to the Symphony.  We have built it!  Will you come?

Written by Allison Gilbert

April 5, 2010 at 9:33 am