Chopin was the ‘man of the hour’ at Friday evening’s Salon Concert at The Music Studio. I performed short works (a few Preludes, a Mazurka, a couple of Waltzes and three Nocturnes) for an audience of about forty. My student baked pastries and we had plenty of coffee. Here’s what I learned:
- When you’re doing everything, the publicity, greeting the guests, taking the ticket money, arranging for seating, setting up the coffee, etc etc, don’t try to perform by memory. For me playing by memory requires me to go into what Jade Simmons would call a “performance cocoon.” With all that had to be done before the performance, right up to the time I sat down at the piano, I didn’t have the focus to perform from memory. Lucky for me I only felt a tiny bit guilty because I had just read this article by Susan Tomes.
- The audience likes trivia. In between each piece I spoke, briefly describing the French Salons of the early 1800s, Chopin’s 200th birthday, and the launch of the A major Prelude, purposely trying not to be lecturing. It worked.
- They also like the intimacy of the Salon. Up close and personal. And right in their own backyard, for most of them.
- Good food is important. Three large plates of cream puffs, eclairs and lemon tarts, gone by the end of the evening. Coffee was available before, during and after the performance. Lots of visiting and chatting up new friends.
- The nicest compliment is when someone said “I haven’t performed in years, but I think I’d like to do this myself.”
4 thoughts on “Chopin Salon at The Music Studio”
Nice website, clean and informative – easy to navigate. Great to see a blog of all the relevant topics! Thanks for your e-mail and interest, Cathy. I will be presenting a paper at the bi-annual Cultural Economics Conference in Copenhagen next month — on house concerts – sustainability and audience development. I’m sure this will lead to more blogs on this topic.
Our Monument House Concert Series in all of our 5 years of producing concerts and hosting foreign artists have never received any grants or public funding. Initially we had considered it a loss leader, something we do for the community and fellow musicians. Increasingly we see it as a powerful branding tool and a way to experiment with new ideas such as collaborations with visual artists and local entrepreneurs. Every single concert in the past year has been SOLD OUT well in advance of the concert. We’re now helping others to start their own concert series.
We ourselves are planning to go on tour and would love to give concerts and workshops everywhere in the USA and brainstorm new ones forward for musicians, especially now that a lot of public funding has dried up and non-orchestral musicians need other avenues to follow.
Thank you for your comments Anne. I’m very interested in hearing about your presentation in Copenhagen and your US tour.
I find it exciting to think about the possibilities for “indie” classical musicians, particularly the idea of using these Salon Concerts as a branding tool. I’d also like to explore the possibility of live-streaming as well as blogging/tweeting the performances at The Music Studio.
Very enjoyable post – I appreciated your comments on the ‘brain space’ needed if you are not only performing but also organising, greeting, preparing food etc. I also enjoyed your post about Jane Siberry’s tour of living-rooms! There’s plenty of food for thought there for us musicians, if we can get round the potential problems (privacy, insurance, public liability etc) of bringing an audience into someone’s private home. It’s good to see people being creative with performance opportunities. As you say, concert agents are not always the way to go.