What makes you attend a music event? Matthew Sigman
Former editor of Symphony magazine
Currently an executive with R.R. Donnelley & Sons, a board member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and of the American Music Center
For several years, while I was on the editorial staff of Symphony magazine, it was my honor and anguish to edit the late great Ralph Black, a man whose wit and wisdom and kindness and love for music was matched only by his stalwart procrastination and indecipherable scrawl. Ralph knew the human heart and pocketbook pretty well, and when it came to the challenges of getting a body into the concert hall he knew every trick in the manager’s book. Yet one of my favorite Black “notes” pertained not to the symphony, but to the opera. “Nobody ever goes to the opera the first time,” he used to say, “they are taken.” Well, that’s still somewhat how it is for me and new music. Unless I know the composer’s work, or I’m a friend of the composer’s, or a friend of a friend, or I’ve been invited by the composer’s publisher or mother or lawyer, or I’ve heard a snippet of something on the radio, or the work is on a program with a work (contemporary or otherwise) that I love. . . Then usually I find myself in a seat in a concert hall at the behest of someone else who has good taste and an extra ticket. Here’s how it usually works:
Matthew: Hey Fran, I’m going to be in your neighborhood tomorrow afternoon.
Fran Richard: Yeah, meet me at O’Neals around 6:00. We’ll get a drink.
Matthew: Sounds great.
Fran: Oh, and there’s a performance of so-and-so’s oboe quintet at Merkin at 7:30. You wanna go?
And thus am I taken.