By Gregory Hodges

In a pluralistic society that values a plethora of musical forms, classical music has become just another category competing with the rest. Coupled with the reality that the free market has one primary value gauge--profit potential, the prospects for classical music seem grim. While I believe that classical music's ultimate salvation rests in educating young people (instead of English/Literature almost solely representing the arts in public schools, I would call for a more even spread among the written, visual, and aural arts), the ideas below will focus on immediate solutions.

1) Engage the Wealthy Creatively! Many wealthy individuals enjoy the benefits of fine art. Those who are passionate enough can literally make great music happen, as history demonstrates. I envision a program where today's wealthy patrons are, for instance, compared to King Ludwig, who was responsible for promoting Wagner, or the Esterhazy Court, responsible for promoting Haydn. This would be a different way of "selling" the wealthy on the importance and prestige of contributing to the preservation of an orchestra or the promotion of new artists and composers. It would be a way to remind us all of the historical heritage of music, and connect the past with the present and the future. The patrons could be given the "honorary" titles of "King" or "Queen" of such and such, with brochures/programs highlighting their "Kingdoms" and drawing parallels between their lives and the lives of past patrons.

2) King Ludwig's Account. A high target goal could be set for the amount of money a particular orchestra sought to raise. Once raised, that money would then be deposited into a high-interest account so that as little of the principle as possible was used, while needed funds would be drawn solely, or primarily, from the interest. The "King" or "Queen" and orchestra officials would be responsible for maintaining the balance so there would always be a future reserve.

3) Energize the Public! While I don't believe that high artistic standards should be compromised in order to bring more people to concerts, I do think a greater effort should be made to energize the public. Personally, I value the formal component of the concert-going experience, but this is what prevents some people from going in the first place. I would recommend more casual concerts--where the performers themselves are dressed casually--and/or interactive concerts where the conductor and musicians talk with the audience and the audience shares thoughts. Also, seasonal concerts could be much more interesting, such as a Halloween concert where the audience is literally in the dark while scary music plays (the orchestra could be "offstage", or have a minimal source of light), with special effects occuring in the hall.

4) Contests. There could be a drawing at each concert for ticket holders. The winner(s) might have the opportunity to spend 15 minutes with the conductor and orchestra, just visiting; or, have dinner with the conductor or an orchestra member.