Concert Innovations

The traditional classical music concert format (“subscription”) was created in a different time. Since then, our industry has undergone its own version of climate change. The world around us has evolved dramatically, and classical music institutions that do not adapt will struggle to survive. I believe that orchestras can thrive forever, if they can adapt to the changing needs and expectations of new generations of potential music lovers.

I have designed and scripted dozens of alternative format concerts for people who needed to know more in order to enjoy more. Through the years there were various names for various series (Exposé, Concert of the Future, Soundbytes, Symphony With a Splash, Behind The Notes). Some were light-hearted and entertaining (Soundbytes, Symphony With a Splash), others were more probing and philosophical (Behind the Notes, Concert of the Future). Most recently, I have worked with the uniquely talented Steve Hackman to develop his hybrid formats, such as the “mashup” programs.

As a consultant for Concert Innovations, I can adapt an existing program and script for your orchestra, or create an entirely new one. I can host the concert, or your conductor can, or I can help you find someone else to host and I can help with stage direction.

Sample programs


First half: Conductor and orchestra onstage. After a short opening work, host (or conductor) presents a thirty-minute explanation/demonstration of what the listener needs to know to hear, understand, and comprehend the meaning of the piece. The orchestra plays excerpts to clarify specific listening points. The audience comes to understand how the “story” of the piece is told by the composer. Second half: full performance of the work. Examples:
>>Click for script and audio sample of Strauss: Thus Spoke Zarathustra
>>Review of Behind the Notes


Full-length or ninety-minute concert  with host, script, humor, optional actors, image projection (still and video), audience interaction. Examples:
>>Click to view writing sample: “Beethoven: Immortal, Beloved”
>>Click to view Pitt News concert preview: Symphony with a Splash (Jan. 8, 2004)


Conductor/composer/arranger Steve Hackman with his unique Millennial-friendly formats juxtaposing timeless classics with inquisitive popular artists: Brahms v. Radiohead, Beethoven v. Coldplay, Copland v. Bon Iver, and Bartok v. Bjork; shows featuring guest artists, and remixes like the heady new Stravinsky Firebird Remix/Response:
>>Click to view additional information about this performance

RM_KonigGalleryThumbBob and I worked on a project which aimed at introducing Richard Strauss’ ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ to the public at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh by talking about the music and playing excerpts of it in the first half of the concert, and playing the entire composition in the second. Basically, what Bob had written was not so much a script of a musicologist but rather a suspense story of the entire (and very intriguing) philosophic and spiritual background of the piece and Nietzsche’s original thoughts. It was a real hit with the public.”
—Christoph König, conductor

RM_PeterGalleryThumbI worked with Bob and the PSO for six years as a resident stage director.  Bob’s standards are among the highest in the industry, his keen intelligence leads consistently to spot on, creative decision-making, whether applied to an entire season of artists and programming, or day-to-day minutiae.  Moreover, despite his sober, creative and wise approaches to things artistic and pragmatic, Bob remains a wonderful, warm, fun-loving colleague, a first-class team builder and teammate!  I can’t wait to work with him again.”
—Peter Frisch, Stage Director PSO Soundbytes series; Artistic Director The Frisch Studio

RM_SandowThumbBob is supremely competent. Whatever he says he can do, he’ll do wonderfully well. And on top of that, he has terrific, way out of the box ideas — which work! Finally, his skill set is enormous. It ranges from judging and guiding conductors, all the way to stage direction, When I hosted a concert series with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Bob was in charge, and I couldn’t have asked for a better coach for what I did on stage.”
—Greg Sandow, Host, PSO Symphony With a Splash series, Consultant, Writer, Teacher, Composer, Change Agent and Thought Leader

RM_HackmanGalleryThumbI’ve never met anyone who combines such consummate knowledge of the traditional, core classical side of our business with an unbounded creative attitude towards the new and innovative. To be able to advise with total wisdom and experience on one hand and such imagination and inventiveness on the other is a rare and special sort of brilliance.
There is no way that FUSE at the Pittsburgh Symphony would exist today if not for Bob’s foresight, vision and advocacy for taking creative risks.”

—Steve Hackman, Creative Director of [email protected] Symphony Orchestra