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#940 Music for the masses

By Cathryn Wellner / February 11, 2014
Queensland Symphony Orchestra shoot

ABC crew filming the arrival of Queensland Symphony Orchestra musicians; photo from QSO Facebook page

If you have followed this blog for a while, you will know I am a sucker for flash mobs. Joy, love, creativity, and community are all mixed in together when people gather to bring something special to a public venue. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s “pop-up” guerrilla performance of Ravel’s Bolero moves onto my list of all-time favourites.

The symphony was changing venues, moving into a brand new studio in Brisbane’s South Bank, in the cultural heart of that great city. In collaboration with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, they created an engaging video that makes classical music seems as accessible as a pop tune.

Individually and in small groups, the musicians arrive with their instruments. The first to begin playing is the drummer. His interaction with a drumming child weaves through the piece with a charming intergenerational connection. Others arrive by van, foot, car and pedi-cab. Each adds a new instrumental voice to the piece.

The production would have taken a lot more planning and coordination than the average flash mob, but the video ends up with that refreshing sense of spontaneity that makes such public performances delightful. The musicians are having fun, and so is the audience. Some are dressed in concert finery, others in jeans. Watchers smile, laugh, tap and dance. At the end of the piece, as musicians file into their new digs, the young drummer and the seasoned professional play a short duet and shake hands.

The whole thing is smart marketing. Classical music can erect some pretty high barriers to attracting an audience. Bringing it to the street, engaging the audience with delight, just might make the doors to the concert hall a bit less daunting to people who would not normally consider a symphony performance.

Bring on the flash mobs—and all the other creative ways this orchestra thinks of to enlarge the audience for classical music. The more people connect with music and with each other, the richer our lives will be. Thanks, Queensland Symphony Orchestra and ABC. You give me hope.

My thanks to Jenni Woodroffe for the link.

You can follow the Queensland Symphony Orchestra on Facebook and Twitter.


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Michelle - February 11, 2014

I loved how some were dressed in symphony suits and some in everyday clothes. Who doesn’t love a Flash Mob?!?

    Cathryn Wellner - February 11, 2014

    Although I associate symphony concerts with formal clothing and a hushed atmosphere, I’m at a point in my life where I confess I would enjoy the concerts more if they were as informal and approachable as this one.

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