I attended a concert Monday night! This just about never happens, but it was utterly good for my soul. I’ve been inspired ever since, both in my practicing and in my planning for the season ahead.
I went out to Michigan City, Indiana, where my friend Nic’s Michigan City Chamber Music Festival is in the middle of its twelfth season. I had never made it to one of their concerts, although they are located less than an hour from my home, during my slow season of mid August, and some of my good friends and colleagues are featured performers. We were in Colorado last summer, but beyond that I have no excuses whatsoever.
And the concert was wonderful. Friendly and informal in all the right ways, beautifully professional and uncompromising in others. The musicians were completely accessible - there was no backstage to speak of and so they stood right at the back of the hall until everyone was seated. I got to visit with them on the way to my seat. They spoke before almost every piece on the program, which I always love - it’s nice to have a little inside information about the piece we are going to hear and charming to sense the personality of the performers before the music begins to speak through them.
Once they began to play, though, they were absolutely professional. Beautiful, focused music-making, communicating like crazy with each other and with us but never breaking character. I’ve seen - and been - musicians who take the informality too far and keep mugging for the audience or reacting to errors or relying on the audience’s good will too much. This was not that. I loved that Nic had hired a solid crew to make the stage changes as seamless as possible. I loved that the program book itself was glossy and fat and easy to follow. It made the whole thing seem real, which of course it was.
The programming was fabulous. Piece after piece that I did not know but now love. I looked through the program at the next few concerts (there are MORE!) and saw nothing but more excitement to come. I loved the mix of new and old, wild and peaceful, singing and dancing.
I loved the audience which sat paying attention and listening HARD throughout every piece and then leaped to its feet whooping and hollering at the end - EVERY TIME. The church was full and everyone was rapt. How do you develop an audience like that? Over time, I think, and with a gentle hand, and by putting on outstanding concerts in a small town not know for them.
So. The Michigan City Chamber Music Festival is on again tonight, and Friday, and Sunday afternoon in Michigan City. The schedule is HERE. (It's not so easy to navigate the site - but if you click on the word Program it will download the concert pages with times, the address of the church, etc.) If I can beg Steve’s indulgence again I will be back. You should go.