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Free concerts are a BAD idea

Yesterday evening we jumped on our Villo! bikes and headed for Flagey for the attractive sounding concert ‘Au son de soi’.   It was a wee bit cold, but we were motivated and well wrapped up.  Ok, so the first Villo! stand we came to at Flagey was already full of bikes; no problem, we cycled on to the next one and walked back with only the loss of 5 minutes of so.

We walked confidently into the Flagey foyer only to meet with a disorderly crowd of (still hopeful) music-lovers trying to get a place in the rather small Studio 1.  This was our first indication that things were not going to go our way…

What a mismanagement.  Everyone grouped haphazardly around a long high counter while the organizers read out the names of those who had had the foresight to reserve, followed by the names on a waiting list.  The rest of us unlucky ones were turned away.

It was a shame, as I had been looking forward to the concert.  The organizers claimed that the need to reserve was clear on their website.  And yet there were no details concerning reservation mentioned on the Flagey site, nor the Musique Nouvelles site, nor, as far as I can see, is it obvious on the La Semaine du Son site.   Ah well, maybe I should have known, but they certainly didn’t make it easy for us.

And to end with a serious point: I do not agree with the principle of free concerts in this context.  Why?  It was not necessary, and it promotes the idea that classical music does not need to be paid for.  Even if musicians love their work, they still need financial support.  If this is not given, the professional world of music is stifled.  The young and idealistic survive only until such time as they grow fed-up with the impossible financial situation.  This can’t be good for a profession that would gain by maturity and experience.

In the case of the concert last night, the room was full.  A larger room would have been full.  Why not ask for a contribution from your audience that would perhaps then allow the concert to be performed twice, or another concert to be performed.

I confess I’m not entirely without a personal interest – if it hadn’t have been free, maybe I would have been able attend…

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