Every once in a while, we’ll be featuring a guest blogger. Today’s blog is written by The Schubert Club’s Ticketing and Development Associate, Lisa Dahlberg.
As The Schubert Club’s most recent hire, it’s easy for me to recall the reasons I was initially excited at the prospect of becoming a member of this team. I was interested in The Schubert Club’s online presence, especially its admirable contributions to the conversation on various social media; I thought the Theoroi program was innovative and unlike any other program for young professionals I’d heard of in the Twin Cities; and I was wowed by the caliber of musicians The Schubert Club has presented over the years.
In my interview, Barry Kempton told me about Schubert Club Mix, a new series that would be launched this season meant to stretch the traditional recital format. This would be done by featuring of-the-moment performers in a non-traditional venue, playing music that, though still high-quality, was perhaps a bit more novel than Beethoven or Schumann. This was the moment when I became sure that The Schubert Club would have no trouble staying relevant, that it was unafraid of new ideas. My enthusiastic response to Barry was, “I’d go to that!”
New music in a new venue can be viewed as quite a risk, especially for an established arts organization steeped in traditional formats. Indeed, the board chair of the San Diego Opera, which voted to “die with dignity” and close permanently at the end of this season, wrote in an op-ed, “Neither [San Diego Opera subscribers nor donors were] particularly in the market for alternative or radically new programming.” To me, this is an unfortunate conclusion for anyone in a position of leadership in the arts to reach, and most often it’s an incorrect one. To be sure, at the first Mix concert I did see a few people walking out early, shaking their heads in disappointment. But I also saw the rest of the sold-out audience exploring the unique venue, exclaiming over a photo of the prepared piano that was circulating on social media, and enjoying a performance of largely-improvised new music provided by two incredibly gifted artists. When the entire audience rose to its feet at the end, it must’ve been awfully gratifying for everyone who had a hand in planning the evening. The standing ovation was proof to me that the arts community should give audiences some credit – it appears they are more than willing to come along with us as we try new things, if we program intelligently and engage them as much as possible.
I am already looking forward to the next two concerts in The Schubert Club’s Mix series, Anthony De Mare and ETHEL. It’s fun to go to Aria and see young professionals who are new to The Schubert Club, mixing it up with subscribers of 20+ years, all of whom are bravely trying something new – and finding they enjoy it.