The Long Arm of the Met: Beyond Opera
February 8, 2008
It was striking but unsurprising when the Metropolitan Opera’s success with high-definition broadcasts into movie theaters set off related developments in opera houses internationally. But an e-mail survey that came out yesterday from the New York Philharmonic shows that America’s oldest orchestra is also interested in joining the fun. The survey contained a long and detailed series of questions, and I’m wondering how many people were, like me, curious enough to see it through to the end. It was an unusually frank questionnaire, leaving little doubt as to its objects.
There were general queries like:
How much do you enjoy listening to the following types of music?
About how often do you listen to these types of music in other than live performance situations (e.g. radio, television, CDs/LPs, iPods, computers, etc.)?
In the past 12 months about how many times, if any, have you attended each of the following?
Popular music/rock concerts
Classical music concerts
Then they got a little more specific. I wonder how many, like me, felt concern that some responders might say things that would hurt the Philharmonic’s feelings:
If you had to pick, which of these larger orchestras would you be most interested in listening to? (Please select up to three.)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Los Angeles Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
San Francisco Symphony
None of them
(Especially with the proviso “If you had to pick,” it must be a remarkable person who could click “None of them” after such a list!)
Which of the following statements best characterizes your perceptions of the New York Philharmonic?
One of the best orchestras in the world
One of the better orchestras in this country
A good orchestra, along with many others
An over-rated orchestra
Don’t know enough about the Philharmonic to have an opinion
We were then asked to evaluate certain statements, like:
The New York Philharmonic Around the World and in Your Home!
The New York Philharmonic is one of the most exciting and respected orchestras in the world. But because the orchestra performs primarily in New York City, many classical music lovers rarely have the chance to experience the thrill of Philharmonic concerts.
The New York Philharmonic wants to change this by bringing their concerts to you – in convenient ways that work well with your personal lifestyle. Alternatives include live or prerecorded concerts shown in movie theaters, on cable TV, and on the internet.
The New York Philharmonic in HD Movie Theaters
Now you can experience the exhilaration of New York Philharmonic concerts in High Definition (HD) movie theaters near you. Concerts will run in local theaters equipped with the latest technology and high quality acoustics. You’ll be surrounded by the sound of exquisite classical music and have the opportunity to see orchestra members up close and personal through the use of multiple camera angles and shots.
During each concert a special guest host will take you behind the scenes at intermission with interviews and stories on featured guest artists, conductors, and Philharmonic musicians.
Six specially selected concerts will be shown throughout the Philharmonic’s season and each concert program will last approximately two hours.
There was a good deal more in a similar vein, pressing increasingly specific questions about personal taste, including even what kind of camera work most appealed.
It’s good that the Philharmonic is opening up so signally to new ideas for dissemination of its performances. The differences between going to a movie theater for an opera and going for an orchestral concert are of course not inconsiderable. The key to the effective use of a survey is the evaluation of the responses to a well-designed questionnaire. The design seems fine — if radically transparent in what it was trying to find out. The interpretation of the results will be a challenge, and one looks forward to seeing what actions come out of this unprecedented effort by the New York Philharmonic.