“Music in its temporality certainly always is moving into the future, and shaping, and CHANGING the future,” writes Charles S. Brown.
Creating stories allows for a prophetic dimension to emerge from the relics of our musical heritage, inspiring a reinterpretation. To discover in them something we have not seen before.
The story-line both informs and creates a context for the various pieces, all perfectly delightful in and of themselves, but now enhanced by their new placement within ideas quite relevant to our current lives. Can they speak to modern ears, with new meaning? Yes, absolutely.
We know this much: People want to be immersed. They want to get involved in a story, to carve out a role for themselves, to make it their own.Here’s how we apply the importance of “story” to our dramatic concerts.
All pieces of music tell stories. They emanate from a certain cultural milieu, and if nothing else, they describe stories of their own creation. Others describe the impressions which inspired them.
Felix Mendelssohn understood this problem and invented “theme” programming, still common today, where a concert series focuses on a genre of music or historic era. The theme creates an arc during a concert that engages all listeners, regardless of their level of music literacy.
In shaping a program around a theme, any theme, one considers that the music itself becomes limited by the idea which it serves. On the contrary, this new storytelling idea, itself often contained within larger ones, and filled with other smaller stories, can inspire and move the participants into a new journey, a fresh relationship.
You can compare musical dissonance to the conflict between characters in a story. The tension builds and rises to a peak, and then is resolved by the story’s calm conclusion…consonance.
Around the World in 80 Minutes was performed for a wonderfully engaged and receptive audience on Sunday, January 20, 2019 at the Oregon Center for the Arts in Ashland, Oregon. The Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and Southern Oregon University were the hosts of the Jordan’s organ and multimedia concert experience.
This fast-moving concert features unique global organ repertoire by native composers and is as exciting as it sounds. It takes audiences on a great journey that transcends the boundaries of countries, religions, nationalities, time periods and styles. Bringing people together through music, visuals and the grandeur of the organ, it is a story celebrating the fascinating diversity of the music of the world.
Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the October 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.
Jeannine: For those who may want to start a concert series at their church, what advice would you give?
Mr. Largent: If you have an instrument that has a beautiful sound and you feel it should be shared….do it! Be sure you have enough energy…it takes a lot of energy to host a concert. You will need to be the main host for your artists. Don’t assume that at the door donations or free will offerings will cover the costs of the program. You have to believe in the art form enough to ask people to support it financially. In general, if it is free, people will feel it is not of value. Make sure the leadership of your church is behind a series and will attend the concerts. We’ve kept ours on Friday evenings because Friday and Saturday is when art events happen. Saturday night doesn’t work for a church because you have to get everything ready for Sunday worship…..and who will clean the bathrooms and Sanctuary after a concert? If you are going to do a reception after the concert make sure you have a committee of people to love to entertain in charge…..that is a special gift. The rewards in hosting concerts are greater than the negatives. You will demonstrate that your church values the community outside of the building. People will come into the church for a concert that might not come to worship. It is a door opening opportunity for your congregation to become welcoming neighbors.
Jeannine: Thank you for sharing your insights into creating and running a incredibly successful concert series. May you be blessed in your retirement with new challenges and ever more glorious music.