ISO Happy Hour
Hilbert Circle Theatre
THURSDAY, Jan. 19
The crowds were thick. They ate. They drank. They talked. Then they relocated ... and listened ... and laughed ... and applauded — and even whistled. The brainchild of its president and CEO, Simon Crookall, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra presented its first attempt to gear classical music to a younger audience — the first of three scheduled Happy Hour concerts. Over 500 people showed. Quite a few were clearly older than the genX crowd the ISO was seeking.
But hey: The symphony had something for everyone. For a $15 general admission, they offered a 5 to 6 p.m. “happy hour” in the Circle lobby with such goodies as free Starbucks coffee, free food from Scholar's Inn, free drinks from Tequila Corazón, free draughts from Jägermeister and the songs of Happy Hour host Jennie DeVoe. In addition, there were several garish-red periodical stands scattered throughout the lobby, to which no one seemed to be paying attention.
By 6 p.m., the crowd had moved into the concert hall, with the upstairs opened at the last minute. Mozart was the featured composer, Lawrence Renes the conductor, David Bellman the solo clarinetist and DeVoe the host. Though she is a local landmark in music-club circles, this was my first exposure to DeVoe. She was perfect; I fell in love with her. She bridged the gap about as well as you could imagine between talking the classical talk and jiving with her younger admirers.
After the opening selection, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto (first movement), DeVoe said of Renes: "Isn't he hot?" Applause. Then she described Bellman as "hot" also. More applause. The 25-year ISO veteran seemed a bit discombobulated by the compliment. During Mozart's 40th Symphony (all four movements), this crowd actually applauded between movements, normally a ritual no-no. So I vigorously applauded as well, wanting desperately to identify with the younger set.
Crookall set this event in motion for the ISO's future. Did he succeed? Well, let's say it was an exciting start.