The Attention Span of a Gnat

A few links today. With apologies for the fact that I seem to be incapable of a clear, linear thought.

First, this on the PBS blog “Mediashift” – some thoughts on the “Attention Economy.” Very much on my mind at this time of year when we’re trying to put together season marketing materials. If I never had to write any more ad or brochure copy in my life, it wouldn’t be too soon.

I have great respect and not a small amount of amazement at people who choose to do PR and marketing. Scrambling to get the public’s attention is not something I ever envisioned myself doing, since I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to escape detection. Never considered myself a true introvert, but I was re-thinking this when I found myself agreeing to a surprising degree with this recent Washington Post article.

I don’t mean to overstate this. I wouldn’t consider myself shy, exactly, but you’d be surprised how many people in the performing arts are introverts at heart. That doesn’t mean we’re afraid of being in front of people when we have a job to do, though. Give me (or any of us) a gripping piece of music to perform, or even a topic about which we’re passionate, and it’s a different scenario. But working the room during a cocktail hour? Shoot me now. That’s a whole separate Circle of Hell that Dante missed.

I’ve gotten completely off-topic.

Facing the Music

One more link – to this article about the New World Symphony in last Sunday’s New York Times. It was so much like reading about our own young artist company, and it’s surprising that the instrumental music world has so few opportunities like this.

“In the increasingly professionalized world of modern orchestras, where merely playing beautifully no longer guarantees musical greatness, ticket sales or successful capital campaigns, New World has set itself a distinctive mission: to mold graduates of elite conservatories and university music programs into the ultimate orchestra players while also trying to field a world-class performing ensemble.”

Correspondingly, in the world of modern opera, merely singing beautifully no longer guarantees a career, either. And although many programs designed for emerging professional singers have as a mission the “molding of graduates from elite conservatories,” we are one of the very few who do so while fielding an entire opera company – the equivalent of the New World Symphony.

Teutonic & Gallic

Chorus auditions this week, for our soon-to-be-named August opera at the Filene Center and a very-special-concert-opera performance in June. One in French and one in German. (Still speaking in code, I know. Sorry. I know that some of you are enjoying this guessing game, and some of you are, shall we say, getting very warm…)

Anyway, our audition instructions said to bring an aria in German or French. It’s amazing how different from the norm the auditions are, given these parameters. Under typical circumstances, the rep skews overwhelming Italian, with English a distant second, and German and French coming in right after that. (And a smattering of Russian and Czech bringing up the rear.) But instead of all that Italian, we’re getting a full-on dose of Wagner, Mozart (Flute and Abduction), Weber, Massenet, Bizet and Gounod. Have to say I’m enjoying it.

And if you’re in the mood for some more sleuthing, you might want to try to figure out what leads me to re-direct readers here.


Pertaining to nothing except the fact that it seized my imagination… this excerpt from my current bedside reading (Gilead):

These people who can see right through you never quite do you justice, because they never give you credit for the effort you’re making to be better than you actually are, which is difficult and well meant and deserving of some notice.

Maybe this isn’t artibrary at all, and I’ve come full circle.

See you next week with some summer repertoire announcements!



I’ll play… Carmen, with Denyce Graves? Audrey Babcock? Josie Perez?

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Blog