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Midland Symphony Orchestra: Trying Out Some More Relaxed Ways of Reaching & Retaining New Audiences
 Dr. Matt Travis, Director of Choral and Orchestral Programs

Chamber Music in a microbrewery, it goes together like….peas and carrots? Peanut butter and jelly? Rodgers and Hammerstein? Like a ramma lamma lamma ….ok, I’m done, I promise.  At the Midland Center for the Arts, we absolutely feel that Stouts and Strings, our new chamber music series in a bar, is the next in this list of noteworthy pairs! As you already know, a primary obstacle to attendance at a classical music concert is the intimidating concert hall itself. Patrons are afraid of what they don’t know, and fear a stuffy, conservative atmosphere. Stouts and Strings is one of two new adult education initiatives launched this fall designed to shatter this barrier and create a better overall experience for first-time ticket buyers, aiming to alleviate the retention issue for symphony orchestras, which research shows is actually a larger issue than getting people in the door.

On the last Tuesday of the month, a quartet of players from the Midland Symphony Orchestra, our in-house professional ensemble,  presents a 60 minute concert at Midland Brewing Company. The players, who have traded their concert blacks for jeans and flannel shirts, take their spot in the corner of the bar and play....what exactly? They play Brahms and Beethoven, of course, but they also play Sinatra, The Beatles, and Coldplay, among others. Our players have had a blast, as has the crowd, and we’ve found this is especially effective in engaging young families. It’s the perfect combination: mom and dad get a night out and the kids get a chance to run around in an open space, but they also get to see a viola and touch a bow, while hearing great music, some of which may already be familiar to them.

In conjunction with Stouts and Strings, we’ve started another series called Orchestra 101. This is exactly what it sounds like - a beginner's introduction to the orchestral experience. It’s an incredibly basic, no questions are too dumb to ask - type look at the symphony orchestra. We address where to sit, what to wear, and most importantly, when to clap.  We also have a light touch on some of the repertoire being performed. Our hope is to alleviate clapping-at-the-wrong-time-phobia, while providing a glimpse at the repertoire and players in the ensemble. It’s worth noting that this takes place not in the classroom, but in our lounge where folks can enjoy light nibbles and their drink of choice. We want to invite interested folks to Midland Symphony concerts by reminding them that a concert needn’t be a Halloween horror experience, but that the water is warm for wading in.
Want to learn more as these efforts progress? Contact Matt directly at the Midland Center for the Arts and happy audience-building!


New MI Presenters Board Elected 
Welcome to our new board, elected on October 4, 2018. The new board's two-year term begins January 1, 2019.

President: Xavier Verna, Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts

Vice-President: Grace Kelmer, Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College

Secretary: Kristen Squires, Midand Center for the Arts

Treasurer: Joe Kvoriak, Village Theater

Past President: Katie Trzaska-Miller, MIdland Center for the Arts

At Large Members:
Lindsey Anderson, Interlochen Center for the Arts
Dexter Brigham, Midland Center for the Arts

THANK YOU to our outgoing board members for their time, energy and ongoing work in continuing to move Michigan Presenters forward! Your hard work is greatly appreciated!
St. Cecilia Music Center
Getting to Know Our Members
Organization Name: St. Cecelia Music Center

Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Mission Statement/Organizational Focus: 
To promote the appreciation, study and performance of music in order to enrich the lives of the residents of West Michigan.

Types of programming offered: Three different concert series featuring world-renowned artists, School of Music educational programming for youth and adult, facility rental.

Looking to collaborate/route programming? Yes!

About the organization: SCMC offers three professional presenting concert series: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Series, The Spectacular Jazz Series and the Acoustic Café Folk Series – all of which bring renowned, in-demand artists in those genres. SCMC’s School of Music offers after-school youth orchestras and bands, youth jazz ensembles, an adult band and orchestra, summer music camps and an outreach program to Grand Rapids Public Schools. SCMC owns the building at 24 Ransom and rents the facility for community and private events.

Cathy Holbrook, Executive Director


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