Music Interview: Catch Disco Fever

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Keeping a straight face day in and day out with no leisure or relaxation time can be an arduous task. A little fun is a must and even the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra knows when to loosen those bowties and get funky with their hip selves. From time to time, the CPO feel compelled to crawl out of the finely etched groove of classical music and slip into the bizarre realm of pop music. On Friday, February 24th, the CPO catches Disco Fever.

In the past, the CPO has enjoyed considerable success with such events, drawing audiences consisting of not only the regular concert-goers, but new faces to the sights and sounds of the CPO. Lori Crawford, director of marketing and sales for the CPO, claims one of her many goals is to attract fresh audiences to the concerts.

"We are trying to appeal to a younger audience," explains Crawford. "These sorts of events sell really well."

Selling really well is an understatement. Of the numerous programs the CPO has put on featuring music outside of the classical genre, many have completely sold out.

"January 20th of last year was Abbamania, it sold out," says Crawford. "Ian Tyson played on January 20th of this year. That sold out. Natalie MacMaster is playing with us later in the year; it is likely to be sold out."

You can't blame Crawford for being pleased. After all, the CPO's new marketing strategy has pulled it out of a small drought. In October of 2002, the orchestra filed for bankruptcy and all seemed hopeless for the city's resident classical performance group.

After four months without a concert and hard fundraising work, the CPO was brought back to life in February of 2003. Three years later, the CPO is still demonstrating how to gracefully get back up on your feet and stand poised once again. Though they still have a ways to go, things are looking good for the CPO with the success of the pop programing as well as some sell outs for their light classics and classics shows.

"[The advertising campaign] is really hitting home," beams Crawford. "Sales have grown exponentially. It's all about changing perceptions."

Many Calgarians agree with Crawford's claim. However, certain issues inevitably arise when the CPO puts on pop concerts. Some ask whether they are alienating their regular fan base by crossing genre boundaries. Crawford doesn't believe this is so.

"Everybody realizes that people have different tastes," Crawford points out. "Nobody is offended by the programming. The same people who go to the concerts every weekend can still be seen at an event like Disco Fever."

The event in question provides the perfect opportunity for fans as well as orchestra members to kick back and unwind. Crawford admits she will be getting her groove on at Disco Fever to the sound of her favourite disco tune.

"[It's] 'Stayin' Alive,'" exclaims Crawford with obvious enthusiasm. "I love the Bee Gees."

Whether your tastes are more suited to the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, or Barry White, Disco Fever is surely not to be missed by those who just want to have a little bit of fun.

Visit CPO's website for more information.