There are many techniques in deciding which pieces to include in a concert and in this blog post I discuss just four ways of putting together a varied and entertaining programme.
1. Perform works by one composer
Focusing on one composer can be a great solution for choosing an interesting and enjoyable programme. I have recently performed concerts featuring works by Mozart, Chopin and Gershwin. It’s easy to find plenty of variety within their compositions to be able to choose an entertaining programme and you can combine this with some historical background information on the composer.
2. A themed programme
It is possible to give your concert a theme. For example, I have performed a concert of piano Sonatas which has featured works from Haydn and Mozart to Beethoven and culminating in the Liszt B minor Sonata. I have also given a concert of “English keyboard music” including works by Purcell, Parry and York Bowen alongside some less well-known composers such as Pinto and John Burton.
Inviting requests from an audience is always a good way of guaranteeing bums on seats! You can choose whether to allow the whole programme to be requests or just include a number of these alongside your own choices. It’s important to still ensure the concert has a variety of musical styles to keep the programme interesting.
4. A free programme
Of course, a concert programme doesn’t need to feature just one composer or have a theme. It can include a variety of different pieces but there does need to be some structure. For example, your audience will enjoy a combination of larger works like a Sonata or Theme and Variations alongside some shorter pieces. You also need to think about an effective ending and something appropriate for an encore.
I hope these ideas are useful as you look at putting together concert programmes for your own performances.