Creating a Program: Part 1, the Concert

Creating a Program: Part 1, Curating a Concert

As a classical music ensemble in the 21st Century we’re diligently working to differentiate ourselves and capture the attention of busy audiences. Over the next few weeks, we are going to take you through the process of preparing a concert. Each element of the concert - from selecting the music, organizing the production, designing the art of the program book, and selling tickets - is important to achieving a successful event. We’re excited about the music and we want everything we do to showcase the energy of our organization.

Curating a Concert

This year’s Masterworks Series was thought through and planned over many months. The selection of the music, venues, and guest artists were carefully planned out over 18 months prior to the season.

Music Director Vladimir Kulenovic works with the musicians to curate each concert. Preparing an event like a symphonic concert requires deep understanding of the repertoire as well as the needs and wants of the audience. This season Maestro Kulenovic was interested in focusing on storytelling. We’re performing a variety of programmatic pieces like Peter and the Wolf, Scheherazade, Dances of Galanta and more.

The Artistic Committee, who helps select the repertoire for the concerts, consists of the Music Director, musician representatives from the orchestra, Board Member representatives, and the Executive Director. The committee considers what music has been performed in prior concerts, relevant celebrations (Illinois Bicentennial, Beethoven’s 250th birthday, etc.), audience engagement, and what they want to perform. There is a fine balance between selecting repertoire that is popular, repertoire that is challenging to the artists, and repertoire that is challenging to the audience. 

John & Nancy Hughes Theater

John & Nancy Hughes Theater

Each piece of music demands different musical forces. For instance, Peter and the Wolf requires 57 players including only one flute. Meanwhile, Scheherazade requires 64 players including a narrator and three flutes. The composition that the committee selects is then aligned with other compositions to create the concert program. After an artistic program is arranged, the committee thinks through when in the season and which venue are the right fit.

James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts

James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts

Each venue offers its own pros and cons. From stage size, acoustics, seating arrangement, location, and audience experience, the Artist Committee considers all aspects of the concert experience and how they align with the concert program.

In the next article, Music Director Vladimir Kulenovic explains his thoughts on artistic planning.