Colin Pykett Posted July 8, 2020 Share Posted July 8, 2020 Some recent posts have discussed things like youtube performances and various pieces of organ music. This has reminded me of a related topic I ponder about from time to time, which is how to construct a recital programme. There seem to be several aspects|: 1. Who are we playing to? Sometimes it might be an audience 'of the cloth' so to speak, in other words made up largely of organists. Such occasions will include recitals given to organists' associations. Compiling a recital programme for this sort of audience is probably not seen as particularly difficult by most players. But at the other pole, if we want to attract an audience from a wider and more catholic musical background, or those who are merely curious, which pieces should be selected? Perhaps another way to pose the question is to ask what organ tracks would you choose if you were hosting a Classic FM radio programme, where the advertisers have a keen interest in maximising the listening figures? Should we attempt to educate audiences by instilling into them our own (possibly arcane) preferences, or include a selection of lollipops perhaps? Should the programme be all lollipops? These questions seem important, because they are related to the very survival of the instrument at one extreme. And getting people through the door is also advantageous to the church, town hall, or whatever because it enhances the weight of the collection plate which helps to pay for the upkeep of the instrument and the purchase of the next one. 2. How do we know what people's preferences are in the first place? Has the audience research for organ music ever been done? If so, are the results available in the public domain? As it happens, I do have answers to such questions. Whether they are the right ones might be debated, but on the other hand, who could say whether they were 'right' or not? And if they were thought to be wrong, where are the alternative answers to be found? For what it's worth, I analysed the download statistics relating to the organ music tracks on my website over a six month period during which many thousands of people across the globe listened to (or at least downloaded) them. I could even give you the IP address of each individual download in theory, from which possibly interesting geographical and even demographic information could be extracted if desired. Several hours' worth of music is available on the site, played on various types of organ ranging from Arp Schnitger to WurliTzer and representing music from the 15th to the 20th centuries. From these stats, I compiled a Top Twenty list which had some interesting properties, including: 1. J S Bach did not appear, even though the number of items by him on the site is five times larger than the next most common composer. (This does not mean that nobody listened to Bach; merely that the number of those who did were not able to propel him into the Top Twenty). 2. People strongly preferred romantic music played on organs from the romantic era (19th & 20th centuries) rather than earlier music played on baroque instruments, no matter how interesting people such as us on this forum might regard it. Somehow I feel that this information has to be at least slightly useful. Firms and broadcasting organisations spend huge sums on similar market research, and precisely for this reason they are not about to throw their hard-earned data into the public domain for their competitors to see. But I think the bottom line is that recitalists might consider paying attention to results such as these, even if they do not reflect them in their programmes in every particular. Nobody likes playing to an empty church - do they? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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