“Go ahead. Clap at the wrong time. You could even cough, sneeze or guffaw at inappropriate moments. The folks with the Akron Symphony Orchestra don’t care,” writes Martha Mueller Neff in Sunday’s (3/27) Crain’s Cleveland Business. “In fact, they know they’re doing their jobs when there is clapping between movements: They got someone who has never experienced classical music into a seat.” Said ASO Executive Director Paul Jarrett, “If there are people in jeans and a T-shirt, it’s ok. Just come. We still have work to do as an industry to bring people to hear the music.” “The ASO [and] composer Clint Needham [created] Sounds of Akron, a symphony using sound submissions from the public.… ASO musicians go into classrooms and many other venues where they will reach people who may not ever have been exposed to their music…. The orchestra has reached out to several small groups of concertgoers in the 25- to 40-year-old age group to find out what they’re looking for in an arts experience.” The focus groups, says Jarrett, revealed that “People like the excuse to turn their phones off for two hours. People like coming to the orchestra and disconnecting.”

Posted March 29, 2016

Pictured: The Akron Symphony Orchestra has performed its Gospel Meets Symphony concert for 23 years.