Orchestra's cable TV deal heralds age of 'dial-a-concert'
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Monday 20 June 1994
The orchestra has signed an agreement with Diamond Cable TV, which supplies the area, to send film of its musicians at work into every school in the city. This is likely to extend to concerts being filmed and relayed to cable television viewers if union agreement is forthcoming.
In addition, the orchestra has decided to invite elderly people into midweek afternoon rehearsals and give them tea and cakes as they watch. The orchestra's management believes that many older people are afraid to go out at night when concerts usually take place.
Paul Findlay, the RPO's managing director, also intends to have a big screen in Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall to show close-ups of musicians and conductors and to allow musicians to wear casual clothes for some concerts, to attract younger audiences.
The residency, which starts in October with a concert conducted by Yehudi Menuhin, will be studied by Britain's other symphony orchestras as they mark a radical and potentially highly lucrative way of increasing audiences.
Mr Findlay and the company are investigating the possibility of relaying live concerts. 'With the new technologies the possibilities are endless. You can literally have dial- a-concert. Look in the paper, see what we're playing, and if you fancy it, have us on your hi-fi and on your TV screen.'
The orchestra has persuaded Boots, which is has its headquarters in the city, to sponsor it and sell its CDs. The two universities, Nottingham and Trent, will collaborate on summer schools and curriculum involvement with RPO musicians.
Mr Findlay said: 'There is a limit to the number of people we can play to live. The whole interactive nature of cable TV means we can reach a new young audience. We could run all sorts of competitions and musical quizes.
'As for the concert hall, I am determined to have a big screen in it, and I would like cable TV to relay the actual performances eventually. Nottingham is a starting point for a whole new way of networking an orchestra through new technology and our own resources.'
The RPO, which has a deficit of pounds 225,000 had its grant cut from pounds 400,000 to pounds 300,000 this year and had to cut musicians' salaries. But it has responded with these initiatives, as well as calling itself Britain's National Orchestra and becoming the house orchestra of Classic FM with pounds 500,000 sponsorship from the radio station. It has also formed a deal with Tring record company to produce a series of CDs, all at less than pounds 4.
It will receive pounds 400,000 to fund the Nottingham residency, 60 per cent from the local authorities and 40 per cent from the private sector.
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