Audience Engagement, Community Outreach, Ensembles, Future of Music, Music for Social Change, Opportunity

Music in Familiar Spaces: January Update


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By Michelle and Steuart Pincombe

When people ask how our tour is going, I usually answer with some combination of the following: it’s incredible, super challenging, really rewarding, totally exhausting, pretty crazy, the ultimate marriage test, a total blast! For those of you don’t know, my husband Steuart and I (and our pup Lucy) have been traveling the country in a 1959 travel trailer, presenting classical music concerts in places like cafes, breweries, homes and churches. A couple of months back Musicovation introduced our project Music in Familiar Spaces to you with this post and we’re happy to report on our progress here.

Three months into the tour something clicked, right around the time we were in Austin, Texas (December, just before the holidays). Steuart played a Bach & Beer concert at the Hops & Grain brewery and it was packed. People were talking about the concert on Twitter and posting pictures on Instagram. We’d just had a few concerts in a row that were full of enthusiastic and engaged audience members. That week we had received emails from venues asking us to come to them (usually I’m the one asking them to host us), and from musicians asking for advice about presenting their own concerts. “I think we’re actually doing it,” I whispered to Steuart, “I think we can do this!” Though there was still some fear and hesitation behind those statements, I hadn’t felt that confident since we started this crazy project.

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I keep finding myself trying to measure the success of each concert. Do I measure it in the number of tweets or Facebook likes? Or the response from local media? How about how much money we made, or the number of people who came?

What I keep coming back to are the conversations Steuart and I have with audience members after each concert. We’ve been surprised at how many people tell us that the concert had been their first time hearing classical music live (and that they want to hear more!). One person said to Steuart after a recent concert in Missouri “… if you’d asked me a week ago if I was gonna be here, I woulda said ‘hell no’, but here I am. You sold me, I love this stuff.” We’ve been humbled by people saying how much it meant to them, to hear Steuart play Bach, as if they were part of a private conversation. We’ve been encouraged by fellow musicians inspired to do similar concerts and actively engage new audiences. And we’ve been astounded by the diversity of each audience, filled with children, retirees, students, young professionals, members of the local symphony, classic rock fans, and everyone in between.

Folks in Columbia, MO showed their support at Cafe Berlin's very first classical music concert.

Folks in Columbia, MO showed their support at Cafe Berlin’s very first classical music concert.

It’s hard to believe we’ve already played concerts in 9 different states. We’ll finish the winter in Texas and Oklahoma before heading up to Missouri in March. For the spring months we’ll be in the Midwest and East Coast, first to Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, before heading to New England. Our route (where we’re going when) is all planned out but we’re still setting up concerts for later in the tour. This tour is an experiment in building an audience for classical music from the ground up. If you’d like to help us and be involved, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re always looking for venue suggestions, hosts, people to help spread the word, driveways for parking our trailer, dog park recommendations…! We’d love to hear from you. Write to us: info@musicinfamiliarspaces.com. Follow us: @mfstour or on Facebook: Steuart Pincombe.

 

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