Why Would Tuxedo Revolt and Harlem Sound Project Give a Free Performance?
Last Friday, December 7th, I partnered with my colleague Kyra Sims (founder of The Harlem Sound Project) to co-present a concert called Winter Lights. We’d been thinking of collaboration between each of our two organizations for a while, and this concert was the end result. The concert went well, with great music by Schubert, Franz Strauss, and Beethoven. We had some great guest musicians as well, soprano Darla Diltz helped the audience connect the poignant text of Schubert’s Auf dem Strom to the recent tragedy of super-storm Sandy, and Kristi Shade of Duo Scorpio gave us new perspective on the Schubert and Strauss pieces by playing the accompaniment on harp, not piano. We also had a surprise guest of honor when innovative performance guru, Dr. David Wallace, came to hear the concert.
But today’s blog post is about something that had been nagging me since the very beginning stages of planning the concert. As we promoted the event and reached out to partnering organizations, friends, and colleagues, I noticed one question that continued to emerge:
“Why give this performance for free? You are going to lose money on this!”
So, here is my answer to this question as well as Kyra’s. I believe that in order for me to write this blog about innovative performance techniques, for me to doing consulting work for individuals, ensembles, and organizations about how to engage audiences— I believe that I must practice what I preach. I believe that I need to test my ideas and theories about innovative performance by actually implementing them, not just talking about them.
I get so much enjoyment from thinking of innovative performances that I jump at the chance to turn idea into action. It’s FUN! I get to make the decisions, I get to create and design, and perform—it’s a truly authentic process for me. I feel so lucky that I am able to do this, and I enjoyed this opportunity to create a great concert experience and offer it to others, not strings attached.
I asked Kyra the following questions about our collaborative experience and why she enjoyed co-hosting the Winter Lights concert. Here is what she had to say:
Why should artists collaborate?
“Collaboration delves into basic human interaction. Communicating and relaying ideas between one another exists in every branch of learning, be it science, engineering, or medicine. Why should the arts be any different? Together we can create artistic endeavors that are greater than we can do alone- that are greater than us.”
Why give recitals at all? How are they relevant to modern audiences?
“A recital is an intimate look into the music that the performer truly enjoys. Usually when someone puts on a recital, they personally choose the programming. That means that the musician has a personal and likely profound relationship with each piece on the program. That kind of love for an art form is an amazing thing to behold, and in a world of factory-processed pop music, modern audiences need to see that kind of love onstage, so that they can learn to love themselves.”
What message do you have Tuxedo Revolt blog readers?
“Sing. Laugh. Love. Listen to as much music as you can, and as many different genres as you can. Because life is short, and the world is large. Let music help you explore it.”
Why do you love to perform? What about performing makes you feel completely alive and electrified? Don’t be embarrassed by any part of what drives you to perform. Embrace it and share it with others whatever the cost. The rewards to your happiness, your self-esteem, and your spirit to create music will be duly rewarded.