UPDATE: At the end of January, The American Marketing Association – Baltimore presented the BSO with the Marketing Excellence Award for Best Advertising Campaign for this project.
Last year, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra launched a marketing campaign aimed at showing the public just how un-snobby its musicians are. Large banners were unveiled on the exterior of Meyerhoff Hall showing players in playful, super-friendly poses. No formal wear, no look-at-how-serious-and-well-trained-I-am shots.
That down-to-earth message is one many an orchestra has understandably tried delivering to counter impressions of aloofness and stuffiness that have long plagued the classical music business, (mostly) without justification.
The BSO has tried to deliver this sort of message over the years in a variety of ways. The banner project is the most inspired and striking method yet, as the new installment at the Meyerhoff reconfirms.
The three players whose pictures have just been given a prominent spot outside the concert hall certainly suggest the prospect of bright, engaging doings inside. Violist Rebekah Newman and cellist Paula Skolnick-Childress couldn't look friendlier or more welcoming. And timpanist James Wyman (pictured, above) -- well, he couldn't look cooler and more today if he tried (the substantial tattoo, a family crest, clinches it).
The images, done by videographer/producer James Bartolomeo of Protagonist Films, may not lead to a surge of ticket sales or mobs of new fans huddled outside the stage door. But it's always worth reminding the public that real live people are up onstage playing all that Beethoven, Mahler and Bernstein, people with individual personalities and tastes, people worth getting to know.
Seems to me these photographs do just that, presenting an attractive sample of BSO musicians who give off a totally non-elitist vibe.