The Bachtrack “Find a concert” facility is designed to be very simple to use, and we don't expect that many people will bother to read this guide. However, there are several things that you can do that may not be obvious, and this document explains them.
This is the third major version of the concert finder: the underlying information is much the same: the main difference from last time is that opera, concerts and ballets now have their own separate finders.
What you can look for
First, a word about what's in the database. At time of writing, we're keeping the database at well over 7,000 events worldwide. We make sure that the most important events are in there, which means, on current policy:
- The main venues in the United Kingdom
- The top 10 orchestras in the rest of Europe
- The top 10 orchestras in the United States
- The most important opera houses in the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe and the United States.
As well as the events that we put in ourselves, anyone who is promoting bona fide classical music events anywhere in the world can become a contributor and input their events into the database. At time of writing, there are over 1000 registered contributors, and we're increasing the number steadily.
Selecting what you want to see
Most visitors will arrive first at the main "Find a concert" page.
Your starting point is usually going to be one of four things:
- Something you want to see - click on "What"
- The place you want to see it - click on "Where"
- A favourite performer, orchestra or ensemble - click on "Who"
- Performance dates - click on "When"
Let's suppose your favourite composer is Shostakovich: simply click on "What", and click on the large red button with "Shostakovich" on the next page. If you were looking for someone whose works are played a little less often - let's say Vivaldi, you could click on the letter V and find Vivaldi in the list. Alternatively, you could select "Baroque" in the left-hand side bar to get all the Baroque composers, which would include Vivaldi.
The system will pick up any events whose programme includes one or more works by the composer you've specified.
When you've selected the composer, you can narrow the list down to a particular work by clicking on one of the items in "Most played works" - or, if it's not in that list, clicking on the link "Click here for a list of all works with forthcoming performances". If the work isn't there, it's because there isn't a performance listed in our database which matches the search criteria you've set.
By the way, the numbers in brackets after the work name tell you how many forthcoming performances there are in the database that match all your search criteria.
Narrowing down the search to your country only
While it may be interesting to know that the Concertgebouw are playing in Beijing, you are most probably going to be looking for events in your own country for most of the time. To do this, when you've done a search, click on the link that says "to see events for your country only, select it here". This allows you to set your home country: future searches will be limited to that country until you specify otherwise.
Your choice is stored in a cookie on your browser, and will therefore apply until further notice on the computer you're using. You can change the country later if you want.
Narrowing down your search criteria
Once you have done a search with one set of criteria, you can add more. For example, if you have done a search for "Concerts of works by Beethoven", you can narrow the search to "Concerts of works by Beethoven in London". To do this, press the black "Places/venue" button under "Add criteria" in the black bar above or below your search results, and then select "London" from the list of places.
It doesn't matter which order you specify the criteria in. You get the same search if you start with the "Where" tab, select "London", press the "Work/composer" button under "Add criteria" and then select "Beethoven".
You can add as many criteria as you like to your search. At each stage, the choices available to you are narrowed down - so, for example, if you have specified "Birmingham" and then go to the "Who" page, the list of available performers is narrowed down to those who have forthcoming concerts and opera in Birmingham.
Searching for performers and instruments
Our list of performers includes both individuals and ensembles (i.e. Orchestras, String Quartets etc).
Performers are grouped by what type of performer they are. For most individuals, this means the instrument they are playing, or their voice type (Soprano, Tenor etc): there are exceptions like "Conductor". To find piano music, therefore, you can go to the performers page and select "Piano" from the list in the left-hand sidebar.
One note: to make it easier for the people doing the database input, we map instruments to performers and events, not to individual works. This means that if you look for the instrument "Horn", you'll only find events where we know who the horn player is, event if the event contains a Horn concerto.
Selecting specific dates
The most common date selections are the month buttons at the top of the "When" page, as well as the "Today" and "Next 7 days" links. However, if you want to set an explicit date range, you can select the start and end dates in the left hand sidebar.
If you're looking for concerts on week-ends, a "Fri/Sat/Sun only" button is provided.
You can only look for events in the future, not for a record of past events.
Selecting by distance
You can decide to only look for concerts within a maximum distance from your geographical location (most probably your home). To do this, you must be logged in as a Bachtrack registered user, and you must tell the system where is the location that you want to measure distance from. You can do this by clicking on the “please set a location” link: instructions are given on the page for how to use Google Maps to pick the latitude and longitude of your home (or other location).
The distance used is approximate and is “as the crow flies”: road distances will be longer.
Advanced tip: the distance is shown in miles by default. If you want to change this to kilometres, go to “My account” in the navigation menu on the right hand side of the find-a-concert page , select the “Edit” tab, select “Contact details”, change the “Units of Distance” drop down to km, and press “Submit”.
Other search criteria
As well as the "Who/What/Where/When" search criteria, we have some other things you can search by, which you can get to from the quick links in the rightmost column of the Find a Concert page, or from the black "Other" button on the "Add criteria" bar.
- There are two special categories of price bracket: “Free” (self-explanatory) and “Low price” (intended for performances where at least half the seats are at £10 or under).
- We have a list of festivals.
- We have started to mark outdoor events, so if you're looking for open air events, we will be marking them.
A restriction of the present system is that you can't search for more than one of these at a time - so you can't look for "free outdoor events".
Changing your search criteria
If you have a complex search (for example "Search for Mozart choral works in November in London", you can change one of the search items by pressing the relevant black button under "Change". In the example above, if you press the "Composers/works" change button, the "Mozart choral works" part of your search will be cleared, allowing you to look for other things to be played in November in London.
Note, however, that if you specify that you are looking for opera (usually because you clicked on the "find an opera" button, this choice will not be cleared until you press a "New search".
Alternatively, the black "New Search" button allows you to clear everything, except if you have chosen to always search in your home country, a choice which is "sticky" until you clear it explicitly. This does exactly the same as starting again with the "Find a concert" item in the main menu.
For these purposes, and Instrument means any type of performer or ensemble, and therefore includes the main voice types (Soprano, Alto, etc) and group names (Orchestra, String Quartet, etc).
The opera and ballet finders
The opera finder works almost identically to the concert finder - except, of course, that it's only looking at opera. Use it in exactly the same way!
For the ballet finder, the "Where" and "When" tabs are the same, but the "What" tab is different, reflecting the fact that ballet lovers are less interested in the composer of a ballet (there may in fact be several) and more interested in the title and the choreographers. If you want to look for a specific composer or choreographer, you can find a list in the left hand sidebar. Otherwise, choose a title from the large table.
The "Who" in the ballet finder is also a little different, since it concentrates on ballet companies and dancers.
The Find events option
If you're happy to see any of these three types of event, you can choose the "Find events" button. This has the same Who, Where and When options as the concert finder, but has no "What" option: if you're going to look for a particular item, you need to use one of the three specialist finders for it.
After you've searched
Getting more information and booking tickets
The listing for each event contains a blue “More info...” button. Pressing this will show full details of the event, including composers, works, performers, price bracket and notes.
There may also be a red “Buy tickets” button. This takes to a web site where you can book tickets, either directly from the venue or orchestra or from one of our affiliated partners. If the "Buy tickets" button is unlabelled, the web site belongs to an organisation which is a promoter of the event, or it's a page on our site. In some cases, the button goes to a ticket agency: in this case, we label the button accordingly.
In some cases, there may be more than one “Buy tickets” button: this happens when tickets to the same event are offered from more than one of our partners.
More information about our partners is given in this article
Finding the venue on a map
If our database has map co-ordinates for the venue of an event, there will be a small blue “Map” button next to the venue name. If you press this, the search screen will be reloaded and will include a map of the area surrounding the venue. You can use the usual Google Maps controls to zoom and pan your way around the map, and use the “Satellite” or “Hybrid” buttons to get a picture of the area.
Buying a recommended CD of one of the works
We anticipate that you might find a concert you're interested in with a work that you aren't familiar with, and might wish to buy a CD of the work. Therefore, if our database of recommended CDs contains a match for one of the works in an event, there will be a green “Buy CD” button will appear next to the work. Pressing this will take you to a page in our CD Finder containing details, together with links for buying the CD (there's also a download available in some cases). Note that the buy CD button is only associated with the work, not the particular set of performers in this event.
Note: the Amazon buttons currently go to either amazon.co.uk or amazon.com, depending on the zone selected in the "Select UK/US" picker at the top of the page. We may add other Amazon zones in future, depending on demand.
You can find out more about our recommendations here.
Saving a search for later use
In this new version of the finder, you can save a search for later use simply by saving it to your browser's "favourites" or "bookmarks" pages. You can also use the social bookmarking icons, located on the right hand side of the page title, for Digg, Del.icio.us, etc.: these are services which allow you to retrieve your favourites from any PC on the Internet. We encourage you to use these because it helps to spread the word about our site.
Note that the previous dedicated Bachtrack favourites pages are no longer used - they were only needed because of the way the original concert finder did its searches.
Other items on the "Find a concert" menu
Finding what's being most played
The top composers and works and top operas pages give you a quick way of seeing what's coming up most often over the coming months. They work by counting the composers and works most frequently found in our database, starting from the present time onwards.
Obviously, these searches are limited to what's in our database. As the site grows, we hope they will become a more comprehensive guide worldwide.
This is a view of all the events in our database set out in calendar form. It's mainly provided for the use of search engines, because it guarantees that they can find all the events in three clicks from the main "Find a concert" page - but feel free to use it if you think it's useful.
Please post comments to this page if you think anything is wrong or needs to be clearer.
Happy searching and happy concert-going!