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Community Band Concerts

July 16, 2009

I’m ridiculously late in mentioning this, but leading up to the July 4th holiday I caught a really awesome concert.  A community band concert.

There has been a lot of talk going around the Internet about the importance of Changing Classical Music.  I woke up this morning to a blog by Zack Hayhurst on how classical musicians need to rethink how they sell their product.  It reasserts the idea that the arts can’t win if we only assert ‘jobs created’ and ‘tourism attracted’ numbers.  There is more to it than that.  His writing was in part a reaction to Createquity talking about economics and the arts.

The essential question, to me, is how do the arts create value in society, and how do we assign a number to that value to allow artists a living.  I really do sympathize with the arguments saying that the arts cannot be looked at in terms of numbers, but at the end of the day, people have to come home to hungry children waiting for food.

One of my favorite arguments is that classical music needs to create a diversity of experiences with the music: there needs to be regal concerts, but we also need to offer classical bar gigs, serious church performances, and kids concerts in a park.  All of these different opportunities help out the others, and providing choices to people helps them to dial in the type of classical concert they feel like at that moment.

You may think I’ve run off into Tangentland, but you are mistaken!  I think there is a great potential to use the venue of community band outdoor concerts.  Who wouldn’t like to hear some good music outside on a nice summer evening?  Turn the event into a series with some sponsorship and donations and musicians can use that as an additional source of revenue paying for music they may be learning for other performances as well.

Now – I’m not saying musicians need to start up bands.  Bands have lots of members in it that would need to be paid, but chamber groups would be able to perform, with microphones just as well to an outdoor audience.

At the end of the day, this is the sort of audience relationship building that is needed to help the arts thrive.  A non-intimidating concert experience that is donation only and helps to attract people to a community. It opens up new markets for classical music.  People don’t need to travel to the biggest area city if the music comes to them.

By the way… the concert was really good.  The Westfield Community Band really killed the easier pieces on the program, and despite sounding a little tired during Lincoln Portrait pulled it off pretty impressively, to the point that makes me wonder if musicians can make a living when amateurs are able to put on performances as good as this.

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