As New Orleans Friends of Music prepares to launch its 2015-16 season, its new president is hopeful of attracting new fans for the chamber music concerts it sponsors each year.
Jonathan McCall, an FOM board member who took the helm of the 61-year-old organization on July 1, recently outlined his vision, which includes gaining wider visibility through partnerships with other groups promoting the classical arts.
“I think the vision is to let more people know we exist and do whatever we can to make it more convenient for people to come to our concerts and support us, both by their attendance and by their donations,” McCall explained.
“We have been partnering, whenever possible, with other music groups in the city, in the belief that if everybody helps everybody else out, everybody benefits,” McCall said. “We just want to make sure it’s never viewed as a competition among the groups but is more of a cooperative effort.”
Among the demographic groups McCall and other members of FOM and its support arms are targeting are the young people, especially those in their 20s and 30s. “We’re making an effort now to find people who are younger and will catch fire with this and may also influence some other people their age to catch fire, as well,” McCall said. “We know that we’re selling a good product. It’s been a good product for 300 years, and it always will be one.”
The seven-concert, 2015-16 FOM season opens on Oct. 21 with the Pacifica String Quartet, the resident ensemble at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Founded in 1994, it was named Ensemble of the Year in 2009 by Musical America, and won a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance that same year. This will be the group’s seventh appearance with New Orleans Friends of Music.
Other concerts coming up this season in the FOM lineup are the Il Pomo d’Oro Baroque Ensemble with countertenor Max Cencic on Nov. 18, the Parker Quartet on Dec. 9, Brooklyn Rider on Jan. 12, the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio on Feb. 24, Angela Hewitt on solo piano on March 16 and Imani Winds on April 18.
All FOM concerts are at 8 p.m. in Dixon Hall on the Tulane University campus. Prior to each performance, Tulane music professor John Joyce offers a lecture on the works to be performed that evening. The lectures run from 7 p.m. to 7:40 p.m. in a room adjacent to the concert hall.
Season tickets remain on sale until opening night of the first concert, after which single tickets or blocks of tickets to two or more shows will be offered for sale.
McCall had special words of praise for FOM’s volunteer support group, Applause!, and the organization’s educational outreach programs.
“They’re doing great things for us,” he said. “They help us spread the word and let people know that we exist and what we are doing, and encouraging them to come to our concerts.
“It’s very exciting to be a part of the classical music scene here,” McCall said. “One of the things that people today know they can do is buy the CD of any group that performs or they can go to YouTube and see a concert. But it’s not the same thing as seeing a live concert. What we want to impress on people is that actually going to our concerts at Dixon Hall is a completely different, much more exciting experience than just hearing it on a CD or seeing it on YouTube. It’s the real thing.”