Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LA Phil Aims at Fresh Young Patronage

How to develop future financial support for the symphony? Free drinks. 

While the classical arts may be ageless, their patrons aren't. Keenly aware of their aging donor base, for years symphonies, ballet, and opera companies across the country have struggled with how to attract young people to what has often been seen as something that only old, white, rich people do. If one saw a 20-something in the audience of any given symphony, he or she was probably a budding musician. Everyone else that age was at a rock concert or a club.

The question became: how to attract and keep people in their 20s and 30s who didn't have prior experience of classical music? The gang at the Los Angeles Philharmonic have been parsing that one for a while, and, taking a page from the New York Philharmonic's Young New Yorkers program, they've just announced their newest marketing plan that seems to be aimed at engaging a youthful base of future support: CODA.

CODA is a membership group that functions like, and shares many of the same benefits as, the symphony's long-standing donor-membership group Friends and Patrons of the LA Phil; except that it's specifically made for music lovers in their 20s and 30s. While benefits programs for annual donors are nothing new to the symphony, their being tailored to a younger adult crowd are. Given the success of the LA Phil's large community outreach programs for children on one end and the Friends program that typically comprises older patrons on the other, it's surprising they've waited this long to tailor something to this crowd. The Young New Yorkers program has been around since 1994.

For the moment, the folks at the Phil are calling CODA a marketing initiative, not a donor initiative. They're testing the waters before asking the members for money. In this inaugural year, the membership fee is waived and future fees have not been determined, according to the LA Phil's PR team. 

The perks are similar to those of the Friends and Patrons group: meet-and-greets with musicians and artistic guests; discounted tickets; concert after-parties exclusively for members -- guaranteeing one gets to party only with peers, and free drinks. Although, the complimentary drinks listed on the LA Phil's website as a benefit of CODA are not blatantly stated as a benefit on the Friends and Patrons page. This symphony really knows its target demographic. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seven Creature Comforts I Never Fly Without

While it's still tempting, even after all these years and long-haul flights, to cram everything but the kitchen sink into my carry-on (I tried the sink once; impossible), I've managed to whittle it down to seven items that truly make a flight of any length more comfortable.


True, this isn't something that goes in the carry-on, but a sports bra is a critical tool when navigating airports and travel that lasts for days. With the sheer number of times I pull bags off and on my shoulders in one trip, there's no way I can handle traditional bra straps slipping off and generally pissing me off, uniboob be damned. When it comes to outer wear, however, in the slob vs. snob debate over travel attire, I'm definitely in the snob category. I'm in public for God's sake, sweats are not appropriate.


Good for everything from discouraging an unwelcome, talkative seat mate to trying to drown out the crying child as well as the sharp upper tone coming from the jet engines, ear plugs are with me all the time. I'm sensitive to noise across the board, so when I get to my destination they do their primary job by helping me sleep through strange new sounds.


File this one under "moisturizer" in general, because the air in a plane hovers around 30 percent humidity, i.e., the same as a desert climate. If I'm on an overnight flight, I take off all my makeup and apply a heavy facial moisturizer. Regardless, I always have eye drops. It takes the scratchiness away in-flight so I can read longer and means I don't have bloodshot eyes when I deplane, even from a red-eye.


That's right: two. Not one, but two. One for my neck and shoulders and another for my lap, since on domestic, and even some short international flights, in coach anyway, the complimentary blanket has gone the way of the Dodo.


Even if I'm already wearing socks with my shoes, I bring a pair of warm, fuzzy, dry socks to change into on the plane. It's no fun to pull off one's shoes and have damp, chilled feet for eight hours. I'm usually cold enough on a flight as it is. 


Not just for granny anymore, on long-haul flights I change into orthopedic compression tights along with my comfy socks. It means that after the 24-hour flight to South Africa from Los Angeles, for example, I don't have grotesquely swollen ankles and I'm much more comfortable in the high-pressure cabin. People with certain medical conditions may be advised by their doctor to use these when flying, but even if you're in good health, it makes a world of difference. Compression wear comes in a variety of socks, stockings, sleeves, and tights. If the ├╝ber sexy beige ortho model isn't to your taste, try runners' websites or stores. 


Not pictured: my old faithful. I take a large, empty sports bottle through security and fill it at a water fountain near the gate. It's not Evian, but it does keep me from badgering the flight attendant to death for seven thousand of those small, plastic cups of water that only contain one swallow's worth. Remember, the low humidity is dehydrating enough. Have caffeine and/or alcohol too, and I walk off the plane looking like an Egyptian mummy. No one wants that. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Past and Progress of Salt Lake City

"The church, the church," my friend says with a mild eye roll, "built a beautiful new mall. But it's not open Sundays."

And so goes the complex city of Salt Lake. It's a blend of progress and hindrance, with growing racial diversity and a positively hip social scene that's tempered by the control that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exercises on politics and daily life. Sure, one can shop on Sundays, just not at the shiny, chic City Creek Center the church built downtown. Though, of the 22 dining options listed on the center's website, two are open Sundays. 

Just south of Temple Square, City Creek Center
is a mixed-use work/play/live construct.

This town has changed much since I started visiting nearly 20 years ago. To be fair, a very rich arts community has always been here.The Mormons that founded the city brought the traditions of story-telling, music, and even dance, according to my friend Joan, co-founder of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. "They had to do something to keep people alive during the winter here," she says. Dance caught hold in a big way; I'm in town to attend the opening-weekend performance of RW's 51st season. Joan tells me one of the first structures the religious pioneers built when they arrived in the valley was a theater. They knew their priorities. 

Those Mormon masons could cook.
The Salt Lake City and County building, opened 1894,
is on the U.S. National Register of Historic places. 

The arts scene, as well as the whole city, has been enriched further by the increasing ethnic and racial diversity. The old aryan creepiness I felt as a kid is no longer prevalent, at least to my eyes. I'm pleasantly surprised to see so many faces of every color in the city center, a noticeable change from the general blond-haired, blue-eyed caucasian-ness of my first visits, years ago.

is home to 10 -- count 'em 10 --
resident companies including
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.

The addition and continuing expansion of a light rail system, TRAX, begun in 1999, has also done the place a world of good. It connects the jewels of the city center, including the theater district along West Broadway, to the airport to the west and the beautiful University of Utah to the east.

The University of Utah, founded in 1850, boasts beautiful
architecture and is an ideal place to stroll or jog.
On the eastern-most end of the enormous -- and I do 
mean enormous -- campus is the Natural History Museum of Utah, the site and architecture of which are as impressive as the huge collections of the organization.

The Natural History Museum of Utah, designed
by Ennead Architects. 
The design is meant to mimic the canyons and
natural bridges of the Utah wilderness. 

Step out to the fifth floor observation deck and take in the
whole valley.
The views of the valley from the museum aren't too shabby either. It's a great perch from which to consider, and appreciate, the direction Salt Lake City is going, and how far it's come.