Entre bastidores: Sp. backstage. This past week, I started working for an established music series in the city. On Friday, we had a young Chinese pianist, a recent protégé of Solomon Mikowsky, playing light Cuban dances; next week we will have Musica Ficta, an early music vocal group from Spain. Front of house, set up and tear down -- all things that you don't even think twice about when you play a gig at a place like le poisson rouge (or, for that matter, Carnegie Hall). Membership, donorship, patronage: all things that institutions like ours thrive on. It's a different lens on the artistic world.
The curatorial process is a curious one, and I think it differs significantly from venue to venue, institution to institution. I recently attended a voice and piano recital at The Firehouse Space in Williamsburg, where Iktus Percussion curates once a month; it's living room-salon-recital hall hybrid - one that sets both audience and performer instantly at ease. Sandra, the artistic director, frequently hosts improv jams there, which is something that entices me, like a moth to a flame.
At my friend's recital, I "stage managed" (think: pull scores off of stands and try not to look awkward), but really it brought me right inside of the work. (More after the jump!)
Leighanne Saltsman, a close friend and frequent partner-in-crime, was resplendent in her De Falla set, poised in her selection from Messiaen's Harawi, and was deeply rooted in the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning for Pasatieri's Three Sonnets from the Portuguese. It takes balls to present a recital these days, and so frequently when I was in school at MSM, I thought "Nay, recital model!" in the hopes that there would be some other formal alternative. In this day and age, where classical music is supposedly dead (yeah alright, Slate, but who really cares about recording sales unless you're trying to get a vibe for someone's interpretation on Spotify? And, based on how much live stuff is going up in New York these days, I'd say classical music isn't really dead, it just hasn't found its core audience yet), the live performance - the care that presenters, curators, and artists take in putting a show together, from top to bottom, start to finish, front of house to tear down - is the most important. We play, not to be canned in a studio, but to perform for an audience, live. We know it, Liszt knew it, and maybe someday the industry will too.
© 2017 Martha Cargo