A few ideas have been tossed around, one of them being attract marquee soloists. Sadly, too few solo artists have broad enough crossover appeal to effectively draw in people who wouldn’t otherwise be inclined to attend an orchestral concert.
Blogs and arts writers have named a number of artists who would be welcome additions to any concert program. However, of the names I have seen none of them strike me as having extensive crossover appeal and by extension, the ability to draw in the much coveted new listener.
Instead, someone like Gil Shaham (whom I incidentally think is wonderful) will resonate with people already in the know. People who have one of his recordings or have heard him in concert previously. These people, I would assume, are already the folks predisposed to attending a concert to begin with.
My brother, who doesn't know an oboe from a saxophone, but who has liked every classical album I have ever played for him, wouldn't shell out $20+ to hear Gil Shaham perform anything, no matter the piece Shaham is playing.
Zen thought: If no one knows the star soloist, is the soloist still a star?
Thankfully, Daily Observations has pointed out an article by Jim Palermo which confirms my thinking.