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A Monthly Profile of Orchestra Fans and Family
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s website touts its Campus Representative program as “a great way to get professional publicity and promotions experience while in college.”
But that’s not why Matthew Fitzpatrick decided to become a campus rep, starting last year. For one thing, the St. Joseph’s University senior is a math major, not a marketer.
He got hooked on The Philadelphia Orchestra in the simplest way imaginable: He went to one of its Free College Concerts, the annual kickoff to the eZseatU program that lets college students see unlimited concerts for just $25 a season, thanks to funding provided by the Amy P. Goldman Foundation and an anonymous donor.
“Afterwards I was looking on the website for opportunities to get involved with the Orchestra,” says Matt, “and I stumbled on the Campus Rep program randomly. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me personally, and that St. Joe’s would be fertile territory for the Orchestra. Students are always looking for a reason to go into the city, and eZseatU pays for itself after just one concert!”
The reps do everything from hanging flyers and posters around campus to representing the Orchestra at school orientations and activities fairs. There are two requirements for campus reps: They have to go to at least one Orchestra concert a season and they are asked to volunteer for at least one Orchestra event, either at the Kimmel Center or elsewhere in Philadelphia.
In a way, Matt himself is the ideal target for a pitch from a campus rep. Growing up in Lansdale, he wasn’t always interested in classical music, although thanks to family members, classics by the Beatles and the Beach Boys were on his early playlist. He took clarinet lessons briefly in elementary school, then got more serious about the trumpet in high school. “I got more into jazz and classical … and then I found the Orchestra.”
Matt says there’s a wide range of reactions when he suggests to his fellow students that they might really like a Philadelphia Orchestra concert.
“The most receptive people are former or current musicians, ones who played in the band in high school, for example. I also hear a lot of pre-conceived notions: ‘The Orchestra is for high society’ or ‘it’s for old folks.’ But once you get them to a concert, it’s pretty engaging.
“Most people already know about The Philadelphia Orchestra; they just don’t think they’re interested. But they’re the people I like to try to recruit. And the Orchestra has plenty of opportunities that are pretty low-commitment, like the Free College Concert or eZseatU. A lot of college kids don’t want to spend money on something they don’t know much about, and might not enjoy. But if they try it out, they might be surprised!”
What’s next for Matt once he graduates next spring?
“That’s the big question! I’ve just applied to be a Fulbright student, and if I get it, I’ll be doing my master’s degree at the University of Helsinki. My advisor said that everybody wants to study in England or Spain, so the odds are much tougher at schools there. Helsinki is a bit off the beaten path; plus, it has a strong emphasis on math research. I’m doing research currently, on some vaguely music-related mathematical concepts.” [It turns out that traditional bell ringing, as practiced in English steeples and bell towers, follows an algebraic pattern].
A far cry from that Campus Rep publicity and promotions experience the Orchestra talks about. “But if they want to offer me a job, I won’t say no!”