Philling the Seats


Now you’re probably wondering what a symphonic orchestra has to do with urban planning. Well plenty, the LV Philharmonic plays at the Ham Auditorium on the UNLV campus. It’s one element in how the university’s day and night roles can vary.

Parking used up during the day by students are filled by concert goers at night. Stores and cafe’s surrounding campus that cater to students become late-night hangouts for classical music connoisseurs where they discuss the merits of Beethoven’s third symphony or the role of Tchaikovsky‘s terse rhythms on the Russian revolution.

Well not quite…

Most of the after-parties and hobnobbing after the shows takes place at more sophisticated venues, and for good financial reasons, thats where the donors prefer.

So how can the neighborhood capture some of these folks as they disperse out of Ham Hall and head to the adjacent parking lot?

The Philharmonic’s young professional association Muse serves a different purpose of attracting a younger, hipper audience to concerts. The goal is to attract locals who currently go to the clubs on the Strip and bring them into a different sort of social scene through cocktail parties and like-minded company.

“It’s a marketing strategy to grow the base,” says marketing director Renato Estacio. In order to do this they hold pre-concert art gallery viewings and other events on campus, and after concerts they organize cocktail parties and meet ups at area bars and night clubs. Although they are usually not the kinds of places that take residence around UNLV.

“After concerts we go to whatever the hip, young bar is at the moment,” said marketing coordinator Aisha O’Brien. “Last time it was Sidebar, the next one will be at the Venetian.”

What, No Freakin Frog?

Filling up Philharmonic concerts, like many cultural events, relies heavily on the kind of word of mouth marketing that spreads because of related parties and events. And contributing to the Philharmonic means getting to know important businesspeople and community leaders of Las Vegas.

Despite this benefit, during Saturday night’s holiday concert director David Itkin requested that the audience invite everyone they would see to the next days concert, promising available seating. The philharmonic is still not meeting it’s attendance goals.

The fur coat-clad, 60-something audience left about a fourth of the seats unfilled. There was a contingent of children in attendance, thanks to a school outreach program, but not enough to match the the character of this year’s lighter and funnier performance. The Twelve Days of Christmas featured musical references and sound effects and some songs took on a jazzier character. There were, however, few families or children to enjoy the new direction. Perhaps it was due to the newness of the program. Or perhaps the stuffiness of the regulars (this is coming from someone who got shushed).

Attracting a larger audience may be a matter of updating the content of the show or creating a full experience before and after it but what the Philharmonic might really need is an effort to change the character of the audience. Jokes and dialogue are an integral part of the show on stage, so should it be between members of the audience. Conversation between patrons should not be discouraged, a full interactive experience is what audiences are looking for.

Yes its a Philharmonic, but its also Las Vegas. David Itkin gets it but some of the audience, it seems, has yet to catch on.


Classical Music gets Sexier and Younger [LV Sun]

Philharmonic wants to know a little about you, too [LV Sun]

And director David Itkin on KNPR’s State of Nevada


One Response to “Philling the Seats”

  1. 1 Renato

    Thank you for including the Philharmonic and me in here. Best, Renato

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