This is not a large town – which is why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were so many serious topnotch musicians living in the area, and so many more who come in every month to perform with the South Bend Symphony. We are just far enough from Chicago and Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo that our members frequently choose to spend the week here in town during orchestra cycles – with the result that there are a large number of professional musicians who consider South Bend a home base. Who have connections here to the community, and a stake in its success and growth.
And this was definitely another part of my inspiration in starting this project. Musicians love to play, and crave more opportunities to dig deeply into chamber music with friends. There are few things more fun than working together in this way. And all of us have a significant level of commitment to the community but a limited amount of material resources to offer.
I’m generalizing here, from my own position. The number of worthy organizations here in town is very large, and I would love to support them all. The amount of cash on hand I can offer to these groups is noticeably limited. I do have a skill, though, and a number of talented colleagues who feel the same way. Hence, Musicians for Michiana.
Now, you may ask, why pay the musicians if the whole point is to raise money for the organizations in question? Aren’t they willing to give of themselves for free? In surprisingly many cases they are, in fact, but I am not willing to ask them to.
For a freelancer, like myself, time is absolutely money. I am not on a salary, and I don’t have significant investments, so money only comes in when I work. Work takes a certain amount of time – I can’t power through a rehearsal or a lesson by working extra hard and then get out early. As much as I’d love to offer my services for free, I know that if I do I’ll end up resentfully turning down other paying work on the day of the performance, or accepting that work which is too good to refuse and leaving my colleagues in the lurch. Playing for free is not a sustainable model, and I won’t ask my friends to do it. We’re not paying them much but it can’t be nothing.
So far my favorite thing about Musicians for Michiana is the enthusiasm I’m getting from EVERYONE I talk to, and no one is more on board than the musicians. The conversation tends to go,
“Hi, Friend! I’m starting a new chamber music series -“
“Ooh! Can I play? What do you need? You know, I have this great piece…”
It’s really humbling to have so many people leap on board with me. I know they are all wonderful players and committed human beings, and just hope that we can bring the nuts and bolts of the project up to the level of our collective enthusiasm.
Who are these marvelous players? These people who are eager to help out with this new series, and make it special? They are principal and section players in your local symphony and other orchestras. Members of professional quartets. Tenure-track professors at real universities. Local music teachers for your child and mine. And active members of our community. I love them, I’m proud of them, and I’m one of them. We are the Musicians for Michiana!
Please visit our Indiegogo campaign before November 30, and help to support our plan. Please tell your friends, and your families, and your colleagues to stop by and check us out!