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Laurie Niles

A violinist's solemn duty

September 15, 2006 at 12:18 AM

As musicians, we owe it to our society and to ourselves to harass everyone we know about coming to our performances.

I had this thought when I realized that my upcoming concert with the New West Symphony had the following program: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the Tchaikovsky piano concerto and a West Side Story medley.

Who could possibly turn away from that? Call them "warhorses," but a warhorse is a reliable animal. Still, after playing the ubiquitout Beethoven 5 to the point where I could probably go it without the music, it's hard to remember to "sell it" to people.

This time, with a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, a time when children can attend, I decided to assemble as much of a fan base as I could. I asked friends I'd seen at my high school reunion, have a not to allmy students, asked my family and told fellow parents at my kids' elementary school. I told them how great the music was, and helped them to understand that it was music they knew. I even sang to people. Then I assured them I'd love to see them there.

So most of them couldn't come. It is across town, and on a weekend. But at least a half-dozen are planning to come, and many others seriously considered it. That means that if I continue to harass them, they might come one day, or they might think about another classical music event as a result of my personal invitation to this one.

People who are already inclined to enjoy classical music tend to be a little more interested when someone they know is playing in the violin section.

Do you have any friends or acquaintances like that? Do you have any performances coming up? Then don't hesitate: HARASS.

By the way, can you come to my concert? :-)

From Kelsey Z.
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 12:48 AM
Harrass when it means a bigger audience at a concert is my middle name. :)

I wish I could come to your concert, Laurie! I'd wear my v.commie shirt ;).

From Luis Pernalete
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 1:38 AM
Best of luck Laurie, i will be in USA in November, Pepe Romero┬┤s Aranjuez is not bad idea and next Anne-Sophie Mutter in Chicago, i already have a itinerary.
From Karin Lin
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 5:22 AM
Aw, I'd love to, but it's a bit short notice for such a long drive. :) Maybe later in the season?
From William Yap
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 12:00 PM
In the concert I played late last month, I had the poster posted at work's noticeboard. Then I did the same at the electronic noticeboard. I told about 10 of my fiends a month before, reminded them 2 weeks after, the day before, and called the on the concert day. Everyone was asking about the concert. In the end, nobody came.

"Was it last Sunday? Sorry I forgot."

"Sorry I can't, I have 2 birthday parties to attend."

"I'm too busy with work." (On a Sunday afternoon)

"Sorry I missed it. Let me know when the next concert is." (as if he really cares)


In a way, I'm glad my family lives overseas because I knew they wouldn't give a crap and it would hurt more.

Now I don't give a crap about anyone I know attending our concert. I enjoyed the rehearsals, learned from performing and had a nervous but rewarding and a great time. That's all that count.

In the future, if anyone ask about my concert just to prentend to care but doesn't really give a crap, I'll just ignore them.

Anyone know where to find friends that care about classical music and me enough to come to my concerts?

From Sheila Ganapathy
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 1:53 PM
I told my student's mother to come to my violin recital and she said "She has track on that day, but it's up to her to choose which she wants to do" and of course they didn't come...I wasn't really expecting her to but why wouldn't she want to hear her TEACHER play? I always go to my teacher's concerts!


From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 5:31 PM
I think you can't take it too personally when they don't come. Just tell them how sorry you were they missed such special event and then continue the harassment next time around!
From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 6:47 PM
None of my friends came to my most important concert last spring. They hadn't been to any others, either, but I told them this one was very important to me. They didn't come, and we had an honest discussion about it later. I'd felt like I must be a crappy person that no one would come see me. Either they didn't like me or they didn't like my playing, or they didn't like classical music. In the end, they told me it was because they didn't want to pay $12.00.

I can't point fingers, because I can be pretty cheap, myself. I just try not to expect anything from my friends, and I try to remember not to be unsupportive to others when it matters to them.

From Terry Hsu
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 9:50 PM
I think one of the most valuable things you can do to promote your own concert is to send a reminder email a couple days in advance.

Whenever I've done that, I've had much better attendance at concerts that I've played at than when I haven't.

It eliminates the "Oh, I forgot" excuse.

True, people ought to just remember when your concert is. But the reminder email definitely works!

From Eileen Geriak
Posted on September 16, 2006 at 2:13 AM
Ha ! I've been working on my friends about coming to my fiddle group's monthly gig at a local eatery here. I managed to snag two of them at the last one...they had a great time ! Hopefully a few more will come to the next one...haha.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 17, 2006 at 5:58 AM
I always send emails to all of my students and some other people I know before I play in a concert. I don't really expect anyone to show up, so if anyone does, I have a pleasant surprise. I'll try more directed harrassment of the kind you described, Laurie, telling them something about the music we're playing and trying to pique their interest. I also send out email concert alerts and festival alerts for music I think they might enjoy. I always give details such as "kid friendly," time, place, parking, and, if applicable, the word FREE in caps. I'm trying to be an ambassador of music. In fact, I do volunteer PR work for a series of folk concerts. These concerts are just as badly supported as classical music concerts. It's really sad. The ticket sales aren't even enough to cover costs, and the concert series administrators have to apply for grants. They say that if they took in more money, they'd pay the performers more. They pay the performers so little that they only get top musicians to perform because they have personal connections with many musicians, and they treat everyone very well and are well liked. We bake food to sell at the concerts. All the audio work and logistical work is done by volunteers. There are only two paid employees on the staff. It's sad. I wish I could do more to help. BTW, everyone is invited to come to concerts sponsored by The Institute of Musical Traditions.

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