MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Innovations — and Results — at the California Symphony

Based in the Bay Area suburb Walnut Creek, the California Symphony has been getting some amazing results from its outreach programs in recent years, according to the story Shaking Up the Symphony by Laura Fraser in the April issue of Southwest: The Magazine. Since being “on the brink of financial collapse” in 2014, writes Fraser, “ticket sales have increased by 70 percent, concerts are frequently added to keep up with the demand, and the number of donors has nearly quadrupled” — all since Aubrey Bergauer began her tenure as executive director.

Fraser interviewed music director Donato Calabra as well, who said: “People think that to bring in younger audiences you need ‘The Symphony Meets the Beatles,’ but a Beethoven symphony is amazing to anyone. You don’t have to ‘symphonize’ pop music. We needed to change the experience, not the repertoire.”

Jeremy Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette follows up on the story in this article. Even though the California Symphony’s budget and audience are a fraction of PSO’s, he explores possible lessons that may be drawn for much larger organizations from California’s success.

Filed under: music news

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