‘The most accessible orchestra on the planet’

‘The most accessible orchestra on the planet’


norman lebrecht

August 13, 2014

That’s what the Detroit Symphony are aiming for, and they’ve launched a new website to achieve it.

The site is a generation ahead of other US orchestras, many of which are clutters of vanities and beatitudes.

Detroit’s is direct, clean and clear. What you see is what you get.

Check it out here. then call your web designer.


Screenshot 2014-08-13 15.52.15

We hear New York Phil’s in hot pursuit.


  • Mark says:

    Looks GREAT!

  • Reinho says:

    Most accessible but very seldom performing, Why?

  • Dave T says:

    I beg to differ. This website obscures basic schedule information, as do those of so many other orchestras. Information of the concert season which is both comprehensive and specific is nowhere to be found. I want to see ONE page which shows simple information, listed chronologically: dates of concerts, compete program info (composer, name of piece [perhaps key and catalog number]), conductor and soloist(s). Think: something you could print and stick on your refrigerator. It’s so simple. I can’t find anything like this on the ‘new and improved’ DSO site. All I am able to locate is the typically horrid grid calendar view, dates on which have those useless cryptic concert ‘titles’ such as “Beethoven Fifth!” or “The Virtuosity of Sarah Chang”.

    What does that even mean? Who is conducting? What else– or what at all– are they playing? I’m sure that if I clicked on each one of those I would be able to find out. Why should I have to? Can’t they show this information on one page?

    Their method may be OK if you are making a once-a-year trip to Detroit and want to know if and what will be on during that stay. But if you are trying to get a picture of the whole season, and make plans accordingly, it is very inconvenient. So many orchestras use this approach. They need to get a new consultant, or think for themselves. Terrible design.

    • Bill says:


      You mean like this: http://www.dso.org/CalendarListView.aspx ?

      I agree that information about the event itself might be lacking but to get a general look at the full season and plan accordingly is not that hard. And let’s be frank, only 10-15% of the people going to concerts care about everything you list: “composer, name of piece [perhaps key and catalog number]), conductor and soloist(s).”

      To do all those things that far in advance is really difficult (I would image). As a website though, it is pretty simple and navigable which something I’m thinking they are aiming for. In addition it seems to be pretty quick and responsive, every click of my mouse the website’s response is instant.

      • joshg says:

        I see what Dave is saying – if one is primarily interested in the classical concerts, you really need to download the brochure to get an overview. And from the brochure, you can’t start buying tickets directly – one would need to go back through the calendar and pick them out anew.
        If you follow Bill’s link, it will only give you the events in one particular month. Filter for “Classical”, and then go to the next month, and you need to filter for “Classical” again. It is difficult to get an overview of the classical subscription season (you know, the supposed raison d’être for a professional symphony orchestra).

        Even if this is the best website in the world, the first half of the season begs a new discussion; who are these concerts for? Do classical music aficionados really need to hear Brahms 1, Symphonie Fantastique, Beethoven 5, Rach 3, Pictures, Shosty 5, Mahler 1, all in one season – again? A Tchaikovsky “festival” – why?

        Great that they have American composers, though, compared to most American orchestras. And the latter season is much more interesting than the first half. But did the “African American” concert, “Classical Roots”, really have to be named after a T.V. mini-series about slavery?

        • MWnyc says:

          “Do classical music aficionados really need to hear Brahms 1, Symphonie Fantastique, Beethoven 5, Rach 3, Pictures, Shosty 5, Mahler 1, all in one season – again? A Tchaikovsky “festival” – why?”

          Depends on what you mean by “aficionados”. Those composers and titles you list (except perhaps for Shostakovich) put sell tickets and put butts in seats in a way that Smetana or Martinu or Elgar or even Copland, let alone the John Adamses or Jennifer Higdon or Arvo Part.

          Did the African-American concert have to be named after Roots? Well, I’m not the one trying to market those concerts to the Detroit community, but I know that in general, in marketing to the wider public, name recognition makes an enormous difference.

  • Marcel Lockhart says:

    Not sure why this hype. I spent 20 seconds on the page and am already turned off. THey advertise their next online broadcast by mentioning Sarah Chang, but no further information on what is on the program. This is the sign of an amateur website, not one that should be used as a role model for other orchestras!

  • Vinyl Hero says:

    For a website “a generation ahead of other US orchestras'”, it lacks the key feature with which many (if not most) new sites are built: responsiveness, that is, the ability to adjust to the size, either within a desktop computer’s browser or to the browser in a handheld device automatically (the way, for example, slippedisc.com does!). For smartphones, the DSO still offers an app. Clever, but hardly next-generation. Somehow I don’t think the NYPhil, despite needing a website upgrade of its own, is in hot pursuit.

  • Dave Assemany says:

    The name appears to work. The Classical Roots concert routinely sells out, and is held in conjunction with a Gala which is a major event in the Motor City.

  • Robert the Oboist says:

    Looks good, functions badly. Say I want to see if you are doing any Brahms. I have to flip through the classical calendar and open every last link.

    How about One SImple Page listing each date, program and soloist?

    Having said that, the programming is imaginative and modern and I look forward to catching several of the shows.

  • Robert the Oboist says:

    Even this is useless:http://www.dso.org/CalendarListView.aspx

    What is on Mozart and More? One still has to get a pinched nerve opening more links.