Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Leadership and Community

Here's a fantastic New York Times profile on the conductor, Michael Morgan, from the other day (picture above is from the NYTimes article).

My two favorite quotes from the article:
“The thing I find most interesting about orchestras is using them to bring the town together...We want the fans of this music and that music, who may never see each other in real life, to come and watch a concert together.”
“All of my ideas about bringing people together come from seeing myself as outsider...Being black in what’s considered a white music culture, being gay in a straight culture. Everything to me is about asking, ‘How do you use your outsider status to bring more people together?’ ”

Thinking back to last Friday's mostly-Britten recital in Philly, those comments coincidentally touch on what are central themes to much of Britten's work, and much of the music that Myra and I performed on Friday night.  It's pretty clear that Britten, himself, felt like an outsider throughout much of his life.  In the liner notes to our Winter Words album (which come with the album when you purchase it on iTunes, if you don't already have a copy), I wrote about how the first time I ever performed Winter Words, I felt very much an outsider in the community in which I was performing, and how singing Britten's music that night bound all of us in the hall together in a profound way.  Ever since then, I've been amazed at Britten's ability to create music that so movingly touches on these common human experiences.  When performing his music, I always feel that there is the potential to draw an audience's attention to the experiences that we share as humans, focusing on what binds us together rather than what it is that divides and differentiates us.  Last Friday's recital in Philly was no exception. 

In the end, perhaps I feel that way about most of the music I perform, but it was most certainly Britten's music that drew me to that realization about the connective possibilities of performance in the first place.

It's so great to see/read about a like-minded soul also making a mark out there in our present-day musical universe.


Jgrant said...

I see there is a rave review of "Winter Words" in the December, 2011 "Opera News."

Joel Grant

nick said...

I haven't seen it yet! Thanks for letting me know!! Hope you are enjoying the album!

Jgrant said...

I don't have the album yet, but my birthday is coming up and it is on my list. As for "Opera News" I think you and Ms. Huang will want to frame the review. That publication is hardly a pushover and often pans performances and albums they do not like. This one is a total rave.

Joel Grant