The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: University of Wisconsin School of Music spring concert wrap-up shows increased attendance and good donations

July 30, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

Earlier this week, I posted the fall concert schedule at the University of Wisconsin School of Music – and a rich, attractive one it is.

I also recently received this comparative wrap-up of the spring semester from UW Concert Manager Rick Mumford.

You’ll remember that this last year – like the upcoming season – features free admission to the never-fail Faculty Concert Series and relied on donations rather than admission fees.

So, how did the UW School of Music do?

Here is Mumford’s memo:

“Looking back on the second half of 2009-10, the Faculty Concert Series (which takes place in Mills Hall, below) had 15 concerts scheduled.  Of these, two were postponed from early in the semester to April, and two were cancelled (but have been rescheduled for 2010-11).

“Four changes in one semester are more than we sometimes have over a period of two years!  But we managed to learn about them in time to get the word out through the e-mailed Digest (which currently reaches about 500 subscribers), web calendar and media.

“During the spring, three short-term faculty members — flutist Dawn Lawler, pianist Ina Selvelieva and percussionist Neil Sisauyhoat — performed as well, adding vital new musical “voices” to the mix.

“The series continued to hold its own among such an abundance of concert offerings in Madison.

Free admission, when compared with the fall semester, appeared to have less of an impact, with some concerts showing greater numbers than comparable figures for the same artists last year, and some having fewer.

(The figures apply to Mills Hall, which seats about 700.)

“The attendance for pianist Christopher Taylor (below top) was higher by 57 and for trombonist Mark Hetzler (below bottom) was higher by 48 than their spring 2009 dates.

“Others who performed in both spring semesters had smaller differences, positive or negative, from 28 greater to 17 fewer.

“Overall, the FCS in spring 2010 registered 1,667 (for 13 concerts) vs. 1,772 in 2009 (for 15 concerts).  Adding the three extra concerts performed by short-term faculty brings the spring 2010 total to 1,821.

“As usual, there are many variables to consider when making an evaluation of these numbers.  The instruments and ensembles, programs, other arts events on campus and around town and even the weather can affect turnout.

“I continue to be grateful for the loyalty and enthusiasm of the school’s audiences and their appetite for exploring new or unfamiliar repertoire along with well-known standards.

“But I’d be happier yet if others joined the cause!  Free admission again in 2010-11 will, we hope, provide an incentive to do so.

“When the school suspended its admittedly modest admission charges this past year, it asked for voluntary contributions to the student scholarship fund for music students.

“Previously, ticket revenue had been allocated to student scholarships after the expenses of administering the series (box office, brochures, postage, etc.) had been covered.

“As of late June, we had collected just under $4,300 through this solicitation.  That’s a significant beginning, but one I hope we can improve upon.

“I’m excited about the upcoming season and look forward to sharing highlights with the public over the coming months.”

What do you make of Mumford’s report?

What do you think of the UW faculty concerts?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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