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Your Symphony Experience

California Symphony is turning the artform on its head, attracting younger patrons, diverse audiences, and filling seats at a time when many other orchestras are fighting to stay alive. The secret, as executive director Aubrey Bergauer recently noted is that “we’re changing the narrative for orchestra. We’re out to make it a lot more fun.”

The symphony’s website is key to setting the tone for that experience. Visitors see colloquial language like “This is gonna be loud.” in reference to Anton Bruckner’s Symphony #7. That’s not what people expect from a symphony. But as conductor Donato Cabrera says, “People think that to bring in younger audiences you need ‘The Symphony Meets the Beatles,’ but a Beethoven symphony is amazing to anyone. We don’t have to ‘symphonize’ pop music; we need to change the experience, not the repertoire.”

Featured images are stylized with color, each that can be updated with each season. The airy pastel palette feels fresh and unexpected in the classical music world.

The site design is easy to read, easy to navigate, easy to maintain, and easy to subscribe. The overall effect is a fresh, welcoming web experience that meets patrons wherever they are in their appreciation of classical music.

From content to style and design, the site puts patrons at the center. Content uses a second person singular narrative to speak directly. Visitors are invited in with language like “New Here? You're welcome if it's your 1st or 100th symphony.” Quick translation to Spanish also dramatically expands California Symphony’s audience reach. In an area where Latinos make up 25 percent of the population, they accounted for only 3 percent of the Symphony’s audience. Since site launch, that number has jumped 50 percent—and rising.

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