Comp Tickets Are Not Cocaine

I’m not a huge fan of the complementary (comp) tickets in the classical music industry. Handing out comps tells an audience that the years of work I put into my craft is essentially value-less. Being a professional musician means fighting that stigma and protecting worth, constantly. Comp tickets are a bad habit! They are continually justified by people in the orchestra industry because: We want a full hall, no matter how. If people like this concert, surely they will pay for the next. Comps are basically like a musician’s privilege or benefit; … Continue Reading

There Is An Easter Egg In My Concerto

When one thinks of violin concertos, it is easy to summon up the typical formulas and expectations. The concerto I will premiere next spring in Chattanooga is not going to be one of those. Last summer I mentioned to Hollywood film composer, George S. Clinton, that an Epic Western kind of violin concerto would be fun. He agreed and began formulating ideas. We chatted on the phone, brainstormed, shared what we liked and didn’t like about the typical concertos and were very much on the same page. The Rose of Sonora: A … Continue Reading

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Yes, And. The Early Days Of A New Nonprofit

After a few performances in the prisons over the last two years, it became clear we were bringing an entirely new and important conversation to the forefront. The conversations were never planned out. They consisted of sharing some music with prisoners and listening to their impressions, opinions, and thoughts. Outcome and expectations instinctively followed Improv Rules, specifically “Stop planning the next thing you’re going to say and just listen to the person in front of you,” and “Yes, And.” The philosophy of Yes, And is where an idea builds incrementally using a … Continue Reading

Your Orchestra Says It’s Progressive, Your Audition Requirements Say Otherwise

There are many initiatives in the classical music industry to promote living, woman, and minority composers. You will see numerous festivals and special concert series devoted to supporting and promoting these composers. That is exactly what should be done. Upon talking with many colleagues about their upcoming auditions, there is a noticeable trend that needs to stop. The music required for the orchestras’ upcoming auditions was written by composers who were long gone: long gone white male composers. While these audition repertoire requirements have been considered “standard” for the last 25+ years, … Continue Reading

Why Are You Here

Why Are You Here?

Sometimes the simplest of questions are the deepest. “Why are you here?” was asked at a prison recital last month. The prisoner wanted to know why performers would come to such a place when we could be anywhere else. But that question meant more to me than just why I would perform music in a prison. That question is a question any musician should be able to answer honestly at any point in their career. Why was I doing what I was doing, anyway. It is a question that forces one to … Continue Reading

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