Blogs- To Sign or Not To Sign

Back in December 2005, my colleague Joyce Rice and I were talking about strategies for marketing the Oregon East Symphony more effectively. In this context, she asked if I had a blog, or had ever thought of doing one, and, if so, perhaps there were ways I could use that medium to work on developing both the size and commitment level of our audience in Pendleton.
At the time, I didn’t even have a website, and I had only ever thought of blogs in terms of politics (politics is one of my major obsessions, but I’m staying away from that here, at least for now). Nevertheless, I liked her idea. Writing for me comes fairly naturally, and I liked the idea of self-publishing a lot- most of my frustration as a writer has always been seeing what happens to a lovingly crafted editorial, guest column or think piece once it falls into the crave hands of an unsympathetic editor.
The idea bounced around for some time, and I did try a few test entries, but it wasn’t until we entered the preparations for the OES performance of Mahler 2 that I committed myself to the project. Ultimately, the reasons were practical- Mahler 2 was an unknown work by an unknown composer (in that region- hard to believe, but true), and it was, by far, the biggest and most-expensive concert we’d ever planned. It seemed clear that I needed to use every single resource I could find to build interest in the program
The work paid off- the Mahler Journey series on this blog attracted a lot of attention throughout the region and Mahler 2 was the biggest selling and most successful program the orchestra has done.
Since the blog was conceived of necessity and in haste, I have to admit, I was kind of making up my approach on the fly. I felt that, if the experiment was successful, I could think about broadening the blog’s scope and purpose at later date. Now, as things are a bit calmer over the summer, I have been taking a bit of time to explore other blogs and give some thought to what I might cover in the future and how I might cover it.
One very obvious thing I’ve found is that many blogs are written by anonymous authors, including On An Overgrown Path, possibly the most popular of classical blogs. I have to say that I do feel a bit of jealousy reading these. As a working musician, I can’t help but feel that my range of speech is somewhat inhibited. I don’t want to alienate possible future colleagues or supporters of orchestras I work for, I don’t want to get friends or teachers in trouble and I generally feel the need to play nice, which, while good karma, can make for somewhat more boring reading. I have a great rant about a famous conductor which is full of really good, fresh venom on file that I still haven’t posted lest I find his agent is a consultant on a search I’m in this year.
Nevertheless, I’ve decided to stick to the original goals of the blog, which were to build bridges and increase interest. It’s far more important to get a potential donor interested in supporting next year’s OES season because of something they’ve read than for me to have the satisfaction of being free to unleash a really vituperative diatribe about some modern political leader that that same donor might happen to really like. So, for now, I am a nonymous  blogger instead of an anonymous one. Staying fresh and cutting edge is more of a challenge this way, but who knows, maybe I’ll start an anonymous blog somewhere else were I can tell you all about the my former agent who…..

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

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