Saturday, October 27, 2012

How is a Special Event like a Performance?

This year at Curtis, I have the added responsibility -- in addition to the grantwriting -- of running the Curtis Crescendo Club along with my friend and colleague Trish Furman. The Crescendo Club's goal is to build interest in and support for Curtis among Philadelphia's young professionals. 
We have two levels of membership: nearly 500 in our free General Membership group; and a growing bunch of Contributing Members who have decided to become more involved and purchase our new $75 annual membership option. We have a variety of events every year around Curtis student performances, usually with social gatherings before and after the concerts.

Last night we held our season kick-off event,"Friday Night at Curtis!" and it was by all accounts a sold-out, rousing success.

We had roughly eighty people in attendance, ranging from Crescendo Club Founding Members, to people who had never set foot into Curtis before, to several Curtis co-workers, and some of the student/alumna performers. Everyone was young, pretty, excited, fashionable, friendly, energetic, fun, smart, and into music and socializing.

We started around 6:30 p.m. with a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception in the elegant Bok Room at Curtis.

It's always a struggle to get people into a concert when they are having fun at a party, but eventually we rounded everyone up into the beautiful Field Concert Hall for a wonderfully varied performance that included a Bach Partita, Piazzolla Tango, Franck Flute (aka violin) Sonata, and much more.

Then we went across the street to The Coffee Bar for more drinks, food, and conversation. They kicked us out at midnight, and the real night owls moved onto some nearby bars.

I've worked at many events and concerts throughout my career, but this was the first time I was involved in planning and hosting to this extent. As the night progressed, I realized that there are many similiarities between a performance and throwing a big event:

Preparation is essential! So much that happens at an event does not go according to the plan. But, if you prepare as much as you can, and consider possible scenarios that might happen, you can handle the inevitable changes with much more ease.

However, at some point, you have to stop planning/practicing and go onstage! If you're a perfectionist like me, you are constantly thinking of things to do and things you forgot. Eventually you just have to stop being neurotic -- a challenge for me, I'm an oboist, remember? -- and deal with things as they come.

You do not want your audience to sense that what you're doing is hard work. This detracts from the event or performance.

Mistakes will happen. Handle them with a smile and keep going. If you don't wince when you play a wrong note, a lot of people won't even notice.

You have to promote like hell. We did an e-blast to our General Membership list; web; Facebook; got press coverage on the fabulous blog uwishunu which is how we attracted so many new people; and I pretty much have been telling everyone I know -- and new people I've met-- for the past two weeks.

Free food (and alcohol) are sure-fire ways to draw people to events! I've known this since I was a freshman at Duquesne and we would go to recitals and other campus events purely for the food. Free food remains appealing to the "young professional" crowd.

Quality above all else! This is one of the many things I love about Curtis. The musical performances are always of the highest caliber, and we endeavor to match that quality in absolutely everything that we do there. I think we accomplished this last night and -- importantly to both the school and me personally as a musician -- the musical performance was the main event of the event.

A special event IS a performance, and yet another way to put skills learned in musical training/career to good use.

Thank you to everyone who attended and/or helped out last night. If I try to list everyone I will just leave someone out accidently and feel bad. You know who you are, and last night's event was so spectacular thanks to you! 

The next Crescendo Club event is Thursday, November 15 around the Curtis Opera production of The Magic Flute. Maybe see you there!

Photos by Melissa Page

No comments:

Post a Comment