by Eric Berkman

Classical Music in Cyberspace

May 15, 20022 mins
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Stroll through Boston’s Symphony Hall during intermission, and the concourse will be mobbed with fur-swaddled dowagers and retired bankers teetering around in 60-year-old J. Press suits?not exactly the picture of hipness. Certainly not as hip as the performers they’re coming to see.

The classical music world has hit cyberspace like a Wagner finale. Musicians from bassoonists to the percussionist who crashes the cymbals are establishing a serious Internet presence, creating websites to promote their virtuosity. In addition to digitized photos, rŽsumŽs, biographies and performance dates, many musicians?like Simon O’Neill, a tenor at the Juilliard Opera Center in New York City?are even sticking MP3s of their performance up on their sites so that prospective bookers can preview how they sound. O’Neill, a New Zealand native, says it’s been a huge boon to his career. He’s doing a professional recital series later this year. The producers first heard him on his site, www.simononeill .com. “It’s wonderful how the Internet is like that,” he says.

John Robinson, executive director of Frank Salomon Associates, a New York City management company that represents classical performers, agrees that a Web presence can really help an up-and-coming artist develop a fan base. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based Amherst Saxophone Quartet has a particularly sophisticated website, amherstsaxophonequartet, that features concert clips and CDs available for purchase online. “I think they do get bookings and can convert certain presenters by pointing them to the site and having them listen around,” he says. In the future, Robinson adds, “everyone will need to do this, and it’ll be an advantage to be ahead of the curve.”