Greg Powell has been the principal bassist of the Flint Symphony Orchestra for several years. He is also a regular presenter for the Inside the Music pre-concert series talks.

“I help to give the audience some idea of what to listen for. Many people come to a symphony orchestra concert but don’t know much about the music. So, my job is to help make the experience more meaningful for them. I talk about what they will hear and suggest what to listen for.”

Inside the Music has been a tradition for FSO patrons for many years. FSO Operations Manager Cathy Prevett says it’s an important and popular part of every concert.

“It’s a free opportunity to come and learn something new or be reminded of subtle things to listen for when attending an FSO concert. It helps patrons appreciate the study and work that goes into performing a concert.”

The pre-concert talks are usually about 30 minutes long. Still, Powell says a lot of work goes into ensuring the discussions are relevant and giving the audience essential facts.

“Typically, I spend about 10 hours researching and finding things about the concert that patrons will enjoy knowing. For instance, I will research the composer’s background. It is also helpful to describe what else was happening in history when the piece of music was written. It helps put everything in context and gives the audience a connection.”

Powell says he is careful not to insult anyone. Some patrons are classical music aficionados, while others are less knowledgeable.

“It’s an interesting balancing act. I can only assume that some people know a little about music and the theory of music. But I don’t want to talk down to anyone. So, I go with a middle-ground approach. I will assume they know some things, but not everything.”

Powell is currently preparing for the opening concert of the 2023-24 season, which features Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, D minor, op. 15, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 C minor op. 67.

“I get excited about all the programs, and it resonates when I see the audience’s facial reaction.

I say something, and there might be a chuckle. I know they are listening, and it makes it all worth it. Then, I get to play the piece and understand those who attended the pre-concert talk were listening to what we discussed. That makes it all worthwhile.”

The FSO pre-concert talks are free with a concert ticket. They begin at 6:30 p.m., and concertgoers can sit wherever they want.

Inside the Music Schedule:

Oct 14 • 6:30pm
Guest Speaker: Gregg Powell, Principle Bassist (Flint Symphony Orchestra and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra), Flint Symphony Orchestra Personnel Administrator
Title: Reflections on Tonight’s Music
Nov 18 • 6:30pm
Guest Speaker: Antione Hackney,
Viola, Flint Symphony Orchestra and Grand Rapids Symphony
Title: New England Music
Feb 17 • 6:30pm
Guest Speaker: Shayla Hottinger Powell,
Descant Choir Conductor
Title: From a Singer’s Perspective
Mar 9 • 6:30pm
Guest Speaker: Catherine McMichael
Title: Bella Roma… (and other delights!)
Apr 13 • 6:30pm
Guest Speaker: Kyle Canjar
Title: The Lineage of the Classic Guitar
May 18 • 6:30pm
Guest Speaker: David Lindsey
Title: The Magic of Orff’s Carmina Burana