Colorado Symphony’s 2014-15 season designed for classical fans, new listeners

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There are warhorses, like Beethoven’s fifth and ninth symphonies, and Mozart’s Requiem.

Photo: Tony Pierce, VP of Artistic Administration, Colorado Symphony
Tony Pierce, Vice President of Artistic Administration, Colorado Symphony.

And there’s a unique series of “Geek” concerts -- that’s the symphony’s description -- with tributes to comic book heroes and music from the films of Tim Burton.

Ryan Warner spoke with Tony Pierce, the Colorado Symphony’s vice president of artistic administration (and a trained cellist). Pierce talked about planning concerts that reach younger music lovers, the hectic pace of presenting a season with 46 different programs and showcasing some of the symphony's in-house soloists and composers.

"It’s a challenge to be relevant to the community and to also curate all of this great repertoire," Pierce said. "We have so much work to present."

One of the Symphony's biggest challenges is attracting younger audiences. That's the motivation behind its "geek" concert series, Pierce said. "It’s exciting music and it’s relevant music. I heard recently an economist say that by 2017 the millennials were going to outpsend the baby boomers. So we need to make sure that strategically we’re addressing that with our offerings."

He believes symphony audiences can bridge the gap between classical masterworks and modern compositions, and even listen to both types of music at the same concert. "This weekend we played a piece by Jonny Greenwood, who’s the lead guitarist of Radiohead, on the same program as Beethoven’s Symhpony No. 1," Pierce said. "We have the ability within a traditional classical concert to really push boundaries a bit."

Pierce says audiences enjoyed the Greenwood piece. "It was a different experience for a lot of our traditional patrons but it’s just such a unique approach to composition," he said. "The traditional conventions that someone like Beethoven made sure he adhered to aren’t relevant to Jonny. The first rule of rock and roll is there are no rules."