Would contemporary classical music be appropriate for a casual school foyer performance?

Edited: February 4, 2018, 1:08 PM · Hi everyone,
I'm thinking of performing in a school's foyer casually during a lunch break. There won't be a stable audience, so people will simply drop by and listen for as long as they want. Would contempory classical music even be appropriate for this type of performance? I'm just wrried that I'll get into big trouble playing such music in this type of setting. If this is a terrible idea, I'll think of something else. Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Replies (12)

Edited: February 4, 2018, 1:22 PM · Have you asked the principal of your school? What are you thinking of performing?
February 4, 2018, 1:31 PM · What do you mean by "contemporary" classical music?
February 4, 2018, 3:30 PM · This is really a matter with the music teacher. He's fine with me performing in the foyer. When I say "contemporary classical music", I'm talking music written from 1920-40 onwards (not including pop or rock music) and is freely tonal or atonal in nature. A lot of this music contains all kinds of extended techniques to convey various feelings. Some of it can be scary, haunting, or convey other negative emotions.
Edited: February 4, 2018, 4:09 PM · If you can snag another violin, do the Bartok Duos.
Paul Hindemith has some nice, accessible stuff.
Max Reger has some cool, not so accessible stuff.
Ravel has some easy, interesting pieces. Kaddish, etc.
There are a ton of horrifying folk songs about people raping sisters, murdering fathers, etc.
Edited: February 4, 2018, 4:09 PM · In a "walk-by" environment like a foyer, I'd choose music that doesn't require any concentration to appreciate, and if someone only hears 30 seconds of it (or even 10 seconds of it), it's still enjoyable for them. In other words, it's the sort of thing that gets the label "accessible" attached to it.

If you want an audience, play things that are instantly enjoyable. If you want something written in the 20th or 21st century, consider, say, Shostakovich's Romance from "The Gadfly" and music along those lines.

February 4, 2018, 4:18 PM · I would not play atonal music in a foyer for an audience that is passing through, and at any rate is mostly not musically trained.
February 4, 2018, 4:27 PM · Even some contemporary music of the tonal kind asks a lot of a casual audience. Maybe you could have a mix of repertoire that is more and less accessible for a first-time listener, in relatively short pieces. If nobody stops to listen, switch to the accessible ones; if it gets too crowded, switch to something atonal. :-)
February 4, 2018, 4:49 PM · Depends on your goal. Why do you want to play casually at school? Examine your motives and consider what to do to obtain the desired outcome. I remember, for example ripping through Kabalevsky at breakneck speed to show off my sophistication for classmates. I just wanted to impress them, not to entertain. If this is your goal, rip away. Otherwise, consider a recital for the more serious music and for busking-type events, go for simpler, more recognizable tunes.
February 4, 2018, 4:51 PM · (and I say this with the benefit of 25 years of hindsight. When I was 14 I was much less self-aware.)
February 4, 2018, 5:16 PM · Thank you all for your advice. I'll look into it all.
February 4, 2018, 5:24 PM · If that's the kind of music you like and are convinced of playing you should go for it. I've actually had very good experiences selling contemporary classical music to non-specialized audiences. What usually works quite well is to set up the performance more as a kind of music theater rather than a traditional concert. A point to start could be to think about the possibilities the foyer offers. Does it, e.g., have hiding spaces where you could start the performance, so people only hear sounds and don't immediately see what is going on? Or would different pieces fit different places in the foyer? You can also walk around in between pieces and improvise. Regarding repertoire 'itchy and scratchy' extended technique stuff usually works quite well, because it has a direct physical impact. Not everybody will like it, of course, but that goes for almost all types of music.
Btw: Will you perform solo or with an ensemble?
February 4, 2018, 5:32 PM · Thanks for the reply. I'll find the repertoire myself. It's a solo thing, by the way.

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