Lessons In Contemporary Telemarketing

Lessons In Contemporary Telemarketing

I spoke the other day with a very pleasant gentleman calling on behalf of the Minnesota Orchestra. He wanted to know whether I might be interested in hearing about a number of attractive ticket bundles that he was equipped to sell me, bundles he was just about to describe when I politely stopped him. Only a few days before, you see, I had received a promotional mailer from the MN Orch containing their 2010-11 season, so I already had my answer prepared: When you start programming contemporary music, give me a call. He promised he would, and bid me good day.

This is my kind of salesman. He didn’t try to tell me that a Kalevi Aho trio and the annual Future Classics concert should satisfy my RDA of new music. He didn’t get all quiet and awkward like the last person who asked me over the phone to buy concert tickets. He told me that the orchestra’s leadership is considering giving over a greater part of their programming to contemporary music and said he’d relay my opinion to his supervisor. I recognize that complaints about a too-musty repertoire are probably just the opposite of what these people usually get when they make these sorts of calls; nevertheless, I’d like to believe that my telemarketory friend understood something that’s too often not understood by the businesspeople of high-budget arts organizations: I am exactly the kind of person who should be buying orchestra tickets, and if that kind of person isn’t buying tickets, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the game plan.

I took a bit of flack some months ago for making public my near-complete renunciation of recorded new music, but I want to be very clear that there’s almost no amount of money I’m not willing to pay to see a concert if I like the program. If the MN Orch started mounting awesome new (and post-1950) works on a regular basis, I’d be thrilled, and I’d probably spend way too much money in their box office. I haven’t seen their annual report, but my guess is that the MN Orch is one of the few large orchestras in the country with the solvency to go out on the occasional limb. I’m not sure what the medium-term future holds for the Minnesota Orchestra—lots of pops concerts and warhorses, if their upcoming season is any indication—but every time I get a phone call from their salesminions, I’ll be hoping it’s the one I was promised.


This week, Nick Zielisnki is the man of the hour over at the New Music Scrapbook. Nick’s resume as a bandleader, improviser, composer, and drummer is lengthy, but it’s from his most recent project—the Twin Cities’ Ingo Bethke—that Nick’s audio comes. Furthermore, our interview sheds light on Nick’s unique negotiaton of the interstices of composition and improvisation, among other subjects. Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Lessons In Contemporary Telemarketing

  1. Ken Fasano

    Contemporary (sic) telemarketing
    Here in Des Moines our Symphony is aggressively programming new music: Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and I think somewhere they’ve got a piece for trio and kitchen utensils and some polkas (Guy Lombardo meets the I-80 avant garde? “I am rotting in a room”?) Gag me with a contact microphone (that would at least be Cagean). I’m waiting for Lady Gaga to come to Des Moines in 2012 to do a special centennial performance of Pierrot Lunaire…

  2. tubatimberinger

    public radio
    I do the same thing when solicited by the local (classical/NPR) station. I tell them I will donate every year when they start programming more new music. I don’t even let them go into their counter script before I blurt out “and Copeland isn’t new music”. At that point they don’t have any more to say usually.


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