Strings Attached Annual Survey Responses January – February 2015

1. In the 2014/2015 season, all concerts last approximately 2 hours. Is this the right concert length?

Answer Choices Responses
The current length is too long 3% 1
The current length is about right 97% 33
The current length is too short 0% 0
Total 34

Specific comments:

Works well.

It’s fine

I imagine that many of the audience will lunch afterwards, and therefore over-running might cause problems with their bookings at restaurants. Small detail, indeed

Absolutely right. Advance notice of the expected duration of concerts that are going to significantly exceed this length would help those of us who frequently carry on to further concerts in Eastbourne and Worthing to need to plan our travel arrangements

If the concerts were much longer it might cause difficulties with parking – (We are blue badge holders) – so we find the length is ideal at the moment.

The current length is that of a standard evening concert and makes the journey to the venue in what can be inclement weather worthwhile. The short concerts at the start of Strings Attached I found very unsatisfactory.


2. In the current season each concert has included an interval and an opportunity to meet the performers after the concert. Do you have any comments about these arrangements?

Specific comments:

Good ideas, so please retain.

Agreed, good system.

Interval essential for those with weak bladders! Meeting the performers is very agreeable even though one lacks confidence in the presence of outstanding talent.

An interval is good.

Interval – essential Meeting the performers – very agreeable if they are happy to meet us. I’ve had some good
conversations even though I am not a musician and had some anxiety about being out of my depth.

I believe the interval is essential give a chance to talk to members and helps build loyalty

I like this arrangement


They’re fine, though I would not want to meet the performers myself – I’m not well enough informed.

Personally I dont use the ‘meet the performers’

I approve of both

I wish more people would avail themselves of the opportunity.

I like them

I would prefer no interval. But hard on the players.

I would prefer no interval

Enjoyable and appreciated.


I imagine many people may love to do this. I have never wanted to, my loss

Now that the average duration of concerts is approximately two hours, the inclusion of an interval seems entrirely appropriate. I have no interest in any apportunities to meet the performers; the fact that professional musicans have to work for a living is sordid enough, without putting them through this sort of additional torture

No, we like this arrangement very much.

The interval is necessary in a full-length concert. I have never taken the opportunity to meet the performers afterwards.


Interval fine. Having the performers appear more rapidly at the end might increase the number of the audience who interact with them.

Worth continuing.

3. During the 2013/2014 season we enjoyed a mix of 4 string quartets, 1 octet, 1 piano trio and one concert by a solo artist (Rachel Podger). In the current season we have 3 string quartets and 3 ensembles including wind instruments. Assuming the overall number of concerts is the same as this season (6 concerts), what balance of types of ensemble would you like to see in future seasons?

I would like more of these I think the current proportion of these in the current season is about right I would like fewer of these Total
String quartets  23%
Other string only ensembles (e.g.string trios,string quintets) 26%
Other string based ensembles including other instruments (e.g. piano trios, clarinet or flute quartets and quintets) 23%
Wind only ensembles 3%
Solo performances 3%

Specific comments:

Enjoy majority of string quartets but welcome concerts exploring repertoire for string quintets and strings and other instruments.

Young talented artists are to be encouraged.

Wind only would have to outstanding as Calefax was. I was glad to be introduced to such exceptional music-makers. Solo performers aren’t part of the chamber music genre and I’d only want soloists if, again, they were exceptional as was Rachel Podger.

I would like more piano trios.

I had doubts about ‘wind only’ but Calefax were a revelation – for their programme as well as
their exceptional musicianship. I wouldn’t want more wind only and I’d only want wind only if the
quality matched or exceeded Calefax.

For me Strings Attached started with string quartets, and I’d like to keep it that way. Though
quintets and octets would be great too.

I prefer string quartets to any other ensemble and think that three ensembles this season involving wind instruments was too many.

Only one non-string quartet per season

Concerts in which the performers include amateur musicians from music schools are not appreciated

We certainly are enjoying the variety that you are managing to organise

I see no reason why the balance of ensemble can’t vary slightly season to season. I would just like to see more events. The Kendal Midday Concert Club seems to manage around 12 concerts per season!

I wonder who could like fewer than zero solo performances or fewer than zero other string only ensembles, and how that might be achieved.

I think the quality of performer and the quality of the repertoire are more important than the type.

Good to have an eclectic mixture of ensembles. Superb performers can also compensate for a little mediocre music.

Particulary like Piano Trios

My own interest is strongly biassed towards string groups.

4. How much pre-classical (i.e. before Haydn) or 20th and 21st century music would you like included in the concerts?

One or more pieces in most concerts Occasional only None of this kind of music Total
Pre-classical music (i.e. before Haydn)  29%
20th and 21st century music 66%

Specific comments:

The BEMF do excellent work in bringing pre-classical work to Brighton and good to include 20th C and occasional contempory works I live concerts. However, we found the purely British works of the OMAC concert underwhelming.

A good mixture and where musicians are most accomplished is always good to hear.

Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Haydn wonderful but I so enjoy being introduced to (and sometimes challenged by) more recent music.

But I don’t want Beethoven and Mendelssohn dismissed!

My responses don’t quite express my views on this. I would like one less familiar piece in most concerts – either pre-classical or more modern.

More Shostakovich please!

pre-classical works are already well catered for by BREMF

Our committee do a fine job in programming concerts

I am interested in hearing a range of musical styles, so appreciate a good mix.

Something 20/21st century each time

The current balance seems to be about right

Perhaps not more than one ‘new’ piece in any one concert and this one surrounded by old favourites

I feel that live music is a unique opportunity to allow listeners to enjoy music that they think they might not like.

There is a rich repertoire of 20th Century British chamber music – it would be good to have more of this – Rubbra, Simpson, Vaughan Williams, Dodgson, Arnell, Arnold et al come to mind. The music is not threateningly ‘modern’ but with depths.

5. Do you have any comments about the printed programme provided for each concert including the programme notes?

Specific comments:


They are good, so please keep up the standard!

Very useful

The notes are terrific – better than any other concert I go to.

They are very good.

Absolutely brilliant notes – bravo, Chris Darwin! They can be awkward physically – and noisy in the wrong
hands – but I like the content and wouldn’t want to sacrifice it for a different format.

The programmes are superb any the ntes some of the best I have read.

Very informative. Excellent.

I think they are brilliant, very entertaining and informative

its very good but sometimes presupposes a much higher level of musical knowledge than I possess. Would be helpful to add a pointer to recommended CD recordings


Excellent, as always.

It is good


No particular comments.

Always brilliant

Content-wise, they could not be bettered, though I am aware that some less-academic members of the audience find them intimidating. Production-wise, it is pity that they are still being printed in a format that leads some members of the audience to noisily fold and un-fold them, during the performance

The programmes are alwAys brilliant.

We like the programmes very much and appreciate the background information.

Very good.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

Very helpful.

Excellent – just right!


Excellent format and content.

6. Would you like the performers to talk to the audience before the performance (about the music, the ensemble or their instruments)

Answer Choices Responses
Yes please 28% 10
Yes but keep it to no more than a minute or two 66% 23
No – lets get on with the music 6% 2
Total 35

Specific comments:

AND we must be able to hear them

Especially good with unfamiliar works.

A quick introduction is useful and also gives us a chance to relate to the musicians.

Only if they wish to do so – don’t impose them – and they have something interesting to impart.

But only if they are comfortable doing so and have something interesting – and audible – to say.

The Corn Exchange is impossible for speakers without a microphone – Andrew Comben’s intros are excellent now he’s using a mic.

This season it has not happened very often. I would like to make it a condition that someone speaks everytime. It helps build loyalty Strings att are different

I wish Andrew Corben would stop introducing these concerts. He goes on at great length and we hear the same thing every time. Love to hear from the performers, but not the management.

I think this is particularly informative for the audience. Otherwise the performers may come over as slightly aloof.

But not if it makes them uncomfortable!

But only if they feel comfortable doing so.

Microphone please. Often inaudible.

Provided it is audible

Only if they have something worthwhile to say

Please ensure that the person who is going to speak has read the printed programme; there is little point in their repeating (or contradicting) the information that has already been provided

Provided they have read the programme notes first. Their talking helps to create a sense of community in the audience.

7. Do you have any other comments which would help improve your experience of the Coffee Concerts?

Specific comments:

As requested last year – all sides to have raised/raked seats for back 2 rows

Just an idea, something for children in the Christmas or winter HT holidays.

I already find the concerts most enjoyable and heart warming to hear young and enthusiastic musicians setting out. I should like the opportunity to sponsor a young group.

More raked seating would be good – it can be hard to get a seat on the raked area. Such seating makes it so much easier to see the performers. If no raked seating, then please have the performers on a dais – the Heath were not easy to see from the flat seating.

No comments, I just enjoy them.

I suspect the coffee arrangements in the interval could do with a rethink. They aren’t consistent for Strings Attached Friends and signage isn’t always clear. The long queues – and uncertainty about which queue is which – can be off putting.

Whils I appreciate Andrew Comben saying a few words this highlights the Domes involvement. I think the Chair of Strings should speak when every possible so it draws attention to the terrific job the Committee are doing.

Better coffee. We bought coffee before hand and then had the free members coffee during the interval. No comparison. The first was lovely, the “free” one was weak, watery and didn’t taste of anything really.


I wish we could have raked seating. The current arrangement makes it very difficult to see the performers from the back rows

The best seating arrangement is with raked seating north AND south and just a few rows, not raked, east and west. When this was done early in the autumn of 2014 it worked well. We were all comfortably close but not too close. At the December 2014 concert, with just raked seating on the north, the front row was too close all round and we had to look up at the players.

I think they are excellent – and I consider myself a critical person!


I personally haven’t managed to get to as many concerts as I would have liked, but I think it is an excellent initative and look forward to it continuing.

Mostly extremely enjoyable. Helpful to have dates for season as early as possible

Low temperatures in the Corn Exchange can be something of an issue, though I am aware of the constraints. Ticking noises from the lights, approximately one minute from the start of each half, have returned to being a problem

We are just so glad that you have manages to organise such wonderful concerts and wish you every success in the future. Many thanks

I’d like to avoid queuing outside when I arrive at 10.30 or earlier.

More raked seating, as we had on one occasion; was it November?

I liked having raked seating on more than one side.

Always have the seating layout in “the round” formation. I detest the tiered deating

8. In 2014/15 we launched the Coffee Concert season with our own independently-organised concert given by the Cavaleri at The Old Market. Although a wonderful concert and despite generous sponsorship by our Friends, this concert regrettably made a loss. Without increasing our annual subscription significantly we would not be able to run concerts ourselves outside the Coffee Concert season. Do you have any advice for the committee on this issue?

Specific comments:

Great idea, but the concert though well performed was not very exciting.

Ask for sponsorship or part sponsorship to encourage young musicians.

An increase would be acceptable and more concerts would be very welcome. Essential you keep working with the Dome and Festival for mutual benefit.

I would be prepared to double my subscription if it meant more wonderful music but I fear even this would be insufficient without generous sponsorship as well. Perhaps these ‘one-offs’ can only ever be occasional – that would be good, too.

reveiw ticket prices. Get members views on increased membership rate.

For us the concertas in the intimate round setting of the Corn Exchange are more enjoyable than the more remote staging of the Old Market (and the first(?) concert in the Corn Exchange where the quartet was on stage. In the round spoils us for anything else, and maybe it is difficult to get the audience to come to “traditionally” staged concerts.

A question: how do the costs and benefits of evening concerts compare with ‘coffee’ ones?

yes – I would like to see more lunchtime concerts featuring young performers (as in the festival). Can you set up a separate committee to obtain sponsorship fro these? I might be happy to assist although I have no magic wand or formula – Arthur Oppenheimer

The link with the Dome and Festival works so well, don’t try to go it alone.

It is probably best to stick to the coffee concerts, in which Strings Attached excel.

Avoid losses if cannot be covered at present rates.

Try not to increase sub more than inflation

That is a pity as it was indeed an excellent concert. I personally would be prepared to pay a bit more for the annual subscription if it would help.

I think the programme was not all that attractive. I`m happy with the Sunday programme (why not add an extra recital on Sunday?

Changing a good venue, maybe not a good idea. Some people like the OM., but it is not easy for the elderly to access , (without a taxi. Dome not available? Studio is OK but again stairs are difficult, and lift not easily accessible. Coffee concert season seems a winner. Why change?

I felt that the committee had made a serious error in judgement in choosing to hold this event at The Old Market; for me, the wounds inflicted by the collapse of the Neiman régime are still too raw to allow me to consider re-entering that venue; I had no option but to boycott the event and cannot believe that I was in a minority of one

Personally, I love the Sunday morning concerts. i would happily pay a higher subscription to perhaps have a longer series at its current venue.

We were sorry not to have been able to attend and sad to hear that it made a loss.

Seek sponsorship. Norman Jacobs is extraordinarily successful at securing sponsorship for MOOT. Maybe you could help him spend some of his money!

I enjoyed the concert very much, but accept the financial implications. On balance it is probably best to concentrate on the main season, as the alternative is risky.

An occasional such concert would be welcome, even if you had to charge more for it, and the Old Market is an excellent venue.

9. Now that the Coffee Concerts at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange are well established, do you have views on activities Strings Attached should undertake to further its aims (bearing in mind our modest funds)?

Specific comments:

could a workshop for children be considered – preferably with poss to produce then play a short piece of music- as in previous Bton Festival. as done 2 yrs ago in Bton Festival

See above, something for children and younger people.

Just carry on with the good work and congratulations.

Not really. Overstretching not advisable but ensuring high quality chamber music in Brighton and Hove for the future is vital.

We should stay close to The Dome Corn Exchange and work with it to further high quality – and sometimes ‘risky’ – music in Brighton. When we can do our own thing – like the Cavaleri – we should go for it. Keeping our identity is important because starting over again would be hard in the event of a new regime/philosophy at the Dome in the future.

Consideration to be given to creating an online discussion group via web site and social media.Get members more involved. Consider supporting other musical activities in the area ( in name not money) so Strings Att.become better known,

Encouraging younger people to attend, which I know we do through Cavatina.

Keep doing what you do best. Brilliant string quartets “in the round”, presented by themselves. Don’t subject us to “management speak” beforehand, it just annoys the audience and the concert begins in a less happy atmosphere.

Maybe occasional educational sessions (for audiences of any age)?

see above – extend activities to weekday lunchtime concerts

Keep the current format, I think it works really well.

Continue to foster an audience and liaise with the Dome. Andrew Comben won’t be there for ever. We’ll need Strings Attached to guide his successor!

If it can be done without straining finances, possibly extra outreach to local schools?

Keep things simple but advertise beyond the B&H area. Enable self-printed tickets.

Just focus on the concerts

I think that you are doing an admirable job at the moment.

You are to be congratulated on getting them so well established and are doing a spolendid job

Get together for members in the Founders room. not free, but with tea or sherry/wine supplied. bursary for 6th former at baswic?

The Coffee Concerts may appear to be well-established, but Andrew Comben will not be Chief Executive for ever and a new régime may not prove to be so accomodating; your continued existence is needed as insurance against that fateful day, if nothing else

The odd talk or study day perhaps.

Apply for funding to commission new works.

Although I appreciate that it might be very difficult to organise, the idea of children centred concerts with a chance to try instruments and talk to the performers springs to mind. Perhaps for a shorter length of time?

Seriously try to get a younger audience. Bonne chance!

As most coffee concerts are well attended, I do not think There is not much more you need to do, unless you increase the amount of seats available somehow. Don’t alter something which isn’t broke!

Perhaps a register of chamber-music playing members, available online to other members only, with their repertoire interests, level and availability?

One thought on “Strings Attached Annual Survey Responses January – February 2015”

  1. Responding to the last survey response comment: “a register of chamber-music playing members, available online to other members only”; that is an excellent idea, which was implemented some years ago. The register can be found on the Strings Attached website menu under Local Players.

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