STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, one of the city’s celebrated classical ensembles, may have solved problem of attracting new audiences.
The strategy is: Give people a taste for free, attach a worthy cause to the concert, and offer homemade ice-cream sandwiches afterwards.
That’ll be the program — plus Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat Major and John Adams’ inventive “John’s Book of Alleged Dances” — next Saturday when St. Luke’s Subway Series visits Historic Richmond Town (at 12:30 p.m.).
The concert is free (first come, first served). Audiences are encouraged to bring non-perishable items for donation to City Harvest, the not-for-profit group that distributes food to homeless New Yorkers.
This year the Orchestra is affiliated with the Manhattan bakery Melt. It’s great news for concert-goers. Melt will be selling its notoriously scrumptious ice-cream sandwiches after all Subway performance.
The series, assisted by the city Department of Cultural Affairs, and the state Council on the Arts, travels to all of the boroughs.
The Beethoven septet was one of the composer’s most successful works, so popular that the he himself arranged it as a trio for clarinet (or violin), cello and piano in 1805. (Much later Arturo Toscanini rearranged a section for the string players in his orchestra).
The more lighthearted “John’s Book of Alleged Dances” by California-based minimalist composer John Adams is meant as accompaniment for imaginary dances, or as the composer put it, “steps for them had yet to be invented.”
Kronos Quartet commissioned the piece for a concert in November 1994 in Escondido, California. Sections have titles like “Dogjam,” “Pavane: She’s So Fine,” “Rag the Bone,” “Habanera,” and “Stubble Crotchet.”
The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, now in its 38th season, performs 70 concerts a year in diverse settings — Carnegie Hall, Morgan Library, Brooklyn Museum — with a wide range of guest artists. Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma and Anna Nebtrebko have appeared with the ensemble, as have Sting, Elton John and Peter Gabriel.