The Taneycomo Festival Orchestra came into existence after an inspiring 2 weeks at Chamber Music Midwest, a music festival in rural Wisconsin run by a very close friend of mine. Of course, I have always loved music, but participating in this festival reminded me of why music is important: it brings people together and is a reminder of what is beautiful in life.
My two weeks of Chamber Music Midwest brought me closer to my fellow musicians as well. We would spend the days rehearsing and practicing, and in the evenings we would sit down with a glass of wine and discuss our daily activities. It was an extremely supportive, nurturing, and inspiring environment. Our concerts were so intimate that everyone (audience and performer alike) felt as though they were part of an experience. This is the sort of atmosphere that I hope to create with the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra.
It's obvious that the classical music world is suffering. In my opinion, this is due to the high prices of concert tickets and the extremely high expectations that the performers place on their audience members. As an audience member, one is required to dress in one's finest attire, spend a fortune on admission, and follow some very confusing rules regarding applause and behavior. This makes classical music inaccessible and unappealing to the average American person. I believe that one should be able to enjoy classical music simply because it is beautiful. One should not have to worry about rules, dress, and financial obligations to enjoy this music.
Now, classical music is not popular music. However, there was a time when it was popular music. Elitist traditions of the 19th century turned classical music into a hobby that only the rich could afford. Musicians were servants, and dressed as such in tuxedos. I aspire to do away with such traditions. Why should we continue to wear these ridiculous costumes that have been out of date for a hundred years? Why should we force the audience to express its appreciation for our art only at times when we allow it? There are many reasons why pop music concerts infinitely out-sell classical music concerts.
I want the audience members at TFO concerts to feel comfortable in their own skin. Wear your blue jeans! Clap for something when you are moved! If the music soothes you to the point of sleepiness, then take a nap! Most of all, though, enjoy the music because it is beautiful--not because you feel that you must.
Larkin Sanders, 2012.