The Phoenix Symphony—Receiving Line
Audience walks the red carpet, accompanied by Music Director Michael Christie
Michael Christie began his leadership of the Phoenix Symphony in the 2005-06 season. After an exhaustive search for a new music director, the orchestra wanted to introduce him to their family—the audience. The red-carpet greeting sought to make the Phoenix Symphony more accessible as an arts organization.
What happened exactly?
On opening night of the 2005-06 season, Michael Christie, accompanied by board members and musicians, greeted audience members at the entrance to Symphony Hall. The inaugural Receiving Line marked the orchestra's return to Symphony Hall after an extensive remodeling project. Cannons and ringing bells heralded the event; the cannons continued their use later in the evening with the performance of the 1812 Overture. The Receiving Line happened only once that season, but found its way to the 2006-07 season opening Gala concert featuring Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway. This second occurrence proved to be a surprise "Hollywood" moment for the audience. Although this second event was staged with less sensationalism, it proved an emotional thank-you to supporters of the symphony.
The audience, familiar with the formal and understated interaction with their previous music director, found this close interaction both new and exciting. The experience created positive surprise and elation. While formal surveys have not been used, the buzz of both seasons’ evenings couldn’t be missed. The first occurrence highlighted the arrival of Michael Christie and the return to the hall, while the second season provided an opportunity for the Phoenix Symphony to thank its audience. The positive energy will continue through subsequent seasons; this event is expected to occur annually.
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