Sunday, February 8, 2009

A fair question

There have been a number of times over the past few months when people have asked why I post on Blogspot every week about community bands. They want to know why I even bother. My initial reaction was that community bands have very little exposure outside of their supporters, and that the information needs to get out to people. The blog is a good tool for doing that. That certainly is the simple answer. But there is a more complex one as well.

The complex reason is actually based on my view of the arts in this area, and how we can keep them viable and healthy. It took me a while to come up with a metaphor I like, but I view the arts community as an eco-system. My personal metaphor is that of a river. The larger creatures in the river remain healthy when the smaller ones are healthy, and so on down the line. If one level of creatures has problems, it affects all levels.

In my view of the Arts community, the professional groups need the amateur groups to remain healthy. Many members of the amateur groups are the audience of the professional groups. Also, many who come to the amateur group concerts are potential audience for the professional groups. To my view, keeping the amateur groups healthy must be part of the effort to keep the professional groups healthy.

For example, I know of some folks who came to a friends concert (an amateur group) and enjoyed it very much. Later, they joined their friend at a Milwaukee Symphony concert. In the past they had declined the MSO invitations from their friends in the amateur group because they were unsure of what to expect. Attending their friend's concert took away some of the anxiety.

And they are not alone. I know of others who are intimidated by a symphonic concert. They love the concert experience if the event is a rock concert. But they do not know the "rules of behavior" in the symphonic concert. After a few questions, I learned that they did not know when to applaud. They were confused by the seeming ending of the music and no reaction from the audience, followed by more music and a large ovation.

On a business trip to San Francisco a few years back, I was lucky enough to attend a performance of the San Francisco Symphony. But there was a section of the program that caught my eye. It explained the idea of movements and suggested that the new attendee wait for others before applauding. So even the world class professional groups are experiencing this problem and working to overcome it.

I'll write more next week about the need to support the amateur groups, especially in these trying economic times.

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