If this were a concert then, right now, I would be the gent who walks out onto the stage just when you think the show is about to start, to a smattering of applause from those of you who thought I might be the artistic director, until you realized my suit was too expensive for that.
I would have a creased, handwritten piece of paper in one hand and would sidle over to the lectern downstage right; I would tap the microphone until someone came and turned it on for me; I would introduce myself as [INSERT NAME OF IMPORTANT NONPERFORMER] in the organization; I would say say that before I can get to the prepared remarks carefully folded in the pocket of my suit jacket, there are three items of housekeeping to take care of.
One, to remind everyone that this is our COMBINED ISSUE, covering December AND January so do NOT call the office on January 2 except to leave a message after the tone wishing us a Happy New Year.
Two, to point out the revised structure AND ORDER of our listing sections as explained right here on this page (to your left);
Three, to thank the readers whose suggestions have helped us take this step forward in making the new Section C: Music Theatre listings a permanent feature of our coverage, and we welcome further input moving ahead.
If this were a concert I would then crumple up the aforementioned handwritten housekeeping notes and put them in my suit pants pocket; I would take out the carefully prepared, neatly folded, printed notes from my suit jacket pocket; I would put my glasses on, introduce myself again from my printed notes; and I would say that it is my great pleasure to welcome you to this 20th annual COMBINED DECEMBER/JANUARY issue of The WholeNote.
“Before going any further,” I would say, “I wish to thank all those who have not only made this issue possible but have in fact enabled us to reach this memorable 20th December. But that rather than delaying the proceedings any further I simply direct your attention to the staffers, contributors and funders in the masthead at the foot of this page, and to all the advertisers in the index of advertisers adjacent to it. Without their help, their loyalty and their love, none of this would be possible.”
I would then remember to take the microphone with me and would leave the stage to the performers, and you, dear readers, to your pleasure, after reminding you to turn off all pagers, cellphones and electronic devices.
Since it is not a concert, however I urge you all to turn ON your cellphones, etcetera, and tweet to the world that the Dec/Jan issue is out.
If this were your concert, on the other hand, I would be in the audience hoping that among your resolutions for the New Year would be a couple of things relating to how you address us, the audience from the stage.
Think about this: we all have the goal of attracting new audiences, or to put it another way, audiences to whom what we do is new. If they were guests in our house we would take it as a given that the first thing we could do to set them at ease would be to acquaint them with the rules of the house, by which I mean all the ways we do things that are particular to us rather than generally known.
If applause for example is a natural spontaneous human reflex at witnessing something spectacularly well done, or deep emotion revealed, it makes only slightly more sense to ask people to hold their applause than it does to ask them to hold back their tears.
So if our house rule is that in fact such withholding is required, it is more and more incumbent on us to make that fact known to audiences who are new to our house.
It doesn’t cut it, in my book, to put little asterisks in a program next to sections where one wishes the audience to withhold applause and think that by so doing the job has been done, unless someone, [INSERT NAME OF IMPORTANT PERFORMER], has also called the audience’s attention, from somewhere in the vicinity of the lectern, stage right, to what the artists on stage are hoping the houserules will be.
If I were now to practise what I have just preached, this is what I would say to you, if you were a new reader of this magazine:
I’d say welcome, and thanks for giving us a try; I’d say if you want to get an idea of what makes us tick, flip quickly through the five listings sections of the magazine – from page 36 to page 68. Everything else around those 33 pages (over 800 individual live events) is also in some way about those 33 pages. We exist to support the work of the people whose serious love of live music is there for you to see and hear on these days and dates.
If you are reading this in print, you should know that we do 30,000 of these, nine times a year, of which all but a couple of hundred are distributed free of charge at around 800 distribution points in Southern and Southwestern Ontario. And there is a handy map on our website (under the “About Us” tab) which will show you where you can find us.
To all of you, regular readers and new our best wishes for a happy, hearty and hopeful year end and thank you for your kind attention! You won’t see us in print again until the end of January, so if you haven’t already, sign up for our between-issue e-letter HalfTones. (For details, see the house ad on page 18.)