Conversations 080117

Ideas that follow have evolved from conversations, and experiences at the Lasker Summer Music Festival 2017 where a small group of elite artists explored hospitality in performance and music.   This discussion is best suited for exactly that type of audience… small, face to face, with the ability to agree on bounding scope, guiding definition and with a community minded facilitator.   This written forum tends to be best suited for “sermons” where little or no diversity, discussion and dialogue can even occur, but I have come to believe that a written outline is necessary to explain some of my own personal assumption and ideas as I explore further.  

Classically trained conservatory artists have spent years, decades, sometimes entire lifetimes in pursuit of a standard.  We have been trained to conserve how our music has always been done.  We embrace “tradition” and history and legacy and pursue perfection through discipline and practice all the while embracing our own talent and ideas no matter how hard we try.  I have coined the term conversation as it is a new concept to me or at least it is the evolution of an old definition and concept.  

Improvisation is as old as music itself.  A conversation by my definition is related to improvisation and may in the end be an improvisation. It is a concept of performance which combines in an intentional manner, all of the skills and ability levels of performers on hand along with the audience, and the selected “music/framework” to be discussed in that moment.  

Practically, this requires awareness of the musicians of a differing construct.  Each must contribute.  No one gets to dictate the whole and be the judge.  The objective is to combine and explore utilizing skills, and shared ideas, legacy, and contexts.   Musically, this occurs when people begin exploring their sound journey in the moment, experiencing music as sound and emotion, but as only a moment in time.  Our performance is not about meeting expectations or conserving a tradition.  In a conversation as I envision it, we instead embrace each other, as we are, where we are, and begin exploring the music in a manner which can be assembled and formed to then engage an audience.  

Historically, this singular vision is owned by the conductor. The choir or orchestra each fit into the vision of realizing the “piece” as it is explained and guided.  In a conversation, the traditional classroom comes into play.  A teacher can dictate, or they can facilitate.  A conductor can do the same.  Performers often prefer to be told what to do.. what key, what rhythms, what texts, how loud, how soft, blend…  All of these components are at play.  The master facilitator in my conversation sound journey must guide each artist to contribute individually for the benefit of the whole.  They must sing individually and together.  They must not be afraid to vary off of the page but be aware of what is happening around them as they inject twists and turns.  We the performers must listen as much or more as we make sounds.  The combined sound experience is a unique construct. It embraces and engages performers and the audience in worship of the divine spark. It fans a flame which must burn and consume and grow but remain controlled so that it doesn’t destroy its intentionality and with it, the journey experience.    

Enough for tonight.. more as I ponder on this into the future. 080117


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