'Fallen Heroes' Succeeds - Despite Low Turnout

I hope no one associated with last night's "Fallen Heroes" concert at the Mann is feeling deflated this morning. While it's true that the event drew only 1,200 to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra - a number that looks mighty small at the Mann - in many ways the effort was a good model for the future.

It raised $160,000 (plus whatever donations were collected at the concert itself) for the survivors fund of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police. It gathered another $250,000 in in-kind donations.

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(April Saul / Staff Photographer)

It ran entirely on volunteer steam - from the ushers, to musicians, to host Tony Danza, everyone pitched in.

Where did it go wrong? Why did only 1,200 listeners show up on a clear, cool night for a free concert?

My best guess is that the weak link was the repertoire. Excerpts from Rocky and Superman, patriotic tunes and a Candide Overture weren't meaty enough to bring in the 3,000 or 4,000 pure orchestra fans who would have jumped at the chance to hear the orchestra for free in, say, a Beethoven "Eroica."

And the lure of an orchestra, no matter what it was playing, might not have been enough all by itself to draw a core group of police supporters. Many policemen and others there last night told me they had never been to the orchestra, the Mann, or both.

Don't fool yourself by thinking that now that they've been in the door once they'll come back for more. It generally doesn't work that way. The trick with these community concerts is for the orchestra to build on the large base of listeners who love the orchestra already and would come to hear it in classical repertoire or venues not being otherwise offered.

Still, it was impressive to see the orchestra, the Mann, the City and lots of other groups working in tandem to create something new. Worthy event, nice vibe.

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