Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Community of Musicians Needs to Include More than Performers and Composers

On New Music Box, Armondo Bayolo exhorts musicians to think big:
We must see ourselves as collaborators within a much wider network of musicians and citizens, helping each other as best we can—be it through something as complex as presenting performances or something as simple as sharing each other’s work on social media—regardless of personal payoff.  The benefits will ultimately manifest themselves and reach far beyond the immediate gratification of a paycheck (although let’s not forget the importance of that paycheck, lest we get too idealistic and starve ourselves in the process) and into the realm of real, tangible cultural change.
It's dispiriting that some musicians need to be reminded that advocacy needs to be part of what they do, that it's not enough to play the gig, get paid, and go home. On the other hand, it's an encouraging sign that there are groups out there who are either engaging in new ways with other musicians--Bayolo cites the relationship between So Percussion and David Lang.

Bayolo also discusses how he used his curating of a concert series as an opportunity to strengthen the musical community through his programming decisions. I was glad to see a composer acknowledge, albeit indirectly, the role that people off the stage play as artistic administrators, or even (shudder) "marketers." Very few of us who put our energies toward promoting music do so out of a craven desire to make money; most of us have a sincere desire to convince people that music is worth paying attention to.

Ultimately, however, there needs to be a direct and substantive engagement with the public (this doesn't happen enough). That's a sure way to make real, tangible cultural change.