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Forte: Why do we need live music?

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Jeffrey Snedeker, Yakima Symphony Orchestra Principal Horn, has taught horn and music history at Central Washington University since 1991, where he is Professor of Music and a Distinguished University Professor for Service. He is president of the International Horn Society and is a founding member of the Northwest Horn Society. Snedeker has performed on six continents, released five solo CDs and published more than 50 articles on various musical topics. In 2012, he was the Washington Music Educators Association’s Higher Education Music Educator of the Year, and in 2018 was elected to the WMEA Hall of Fame. Principal horn of the Yakima Symphony since 1992, Snedeker also presents ConcerTalks at 6:25 p.m. before each classical concert during the YSO season.

YAKIMA, Wash. -- With so many recordings and recorded performances available to us, why do we need live music? Commercial recordings are edited to be perfect, and there are thousands of live performances available for free online, bringing us great music and performers from all over the world.

So, why go to a concert?

I think there are two reasons. First, humans need to spend time with each other, to be part of a community. A live performance is a shared experience — and when you experience something great, you share that moment with the people who are there.

The second reason lies in the answer to why we also attend sporting events. Why do we go see multiple performances of sports teams, our kids, a favorite musical or a legendary performer? Because we know live performances can’t be replicated.

We want to feel the excitement, to see how it goes this time. And what if we don’t go — what if we miss an epic performance?

Attending a live performance is a form of advocacy. Of course there is money involved, but it is your presence that demonstrates the true value you place on the experience. If you donate money to the symphony, you help in keeping ticket prices as low as possible; our sponsors, like Rosemary A.C. Gottlieb, know this.

And, if you come to a concert, you show that it is worth not only your money but also your time, which we all know is precious in ways money can never be.

Start an advocacy cycle! If you can’t attend a concert, give your ticket to someone else so that person can experience that epic performance that you have to miss (and then have the lucky ticket recipient tell you about it)!

Share it with someone who will appreciate the opportunity to see something live, to have a social experience. Maybe they will buy a ticket the next time and the advocacy cycle will continue.

Meanwhile, we will keep working to make those live performances as special as possible for you, to make it worth your time and advocacy. Thank you for your support!

• This column was written by Jeffrey Snedeker, Yakima Symphony Orchestra principal horn. Learn more about the orchestra at

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