How time flies when you're in graduate school.
That which I spoke of earlier is well underway. Eccolo, a rough draft of our new mission statement:
The concepts of access, education and communication comprise the foundation upon which Chamber Music Midwest is built. The festival seeks to present high quality concerts at venues decidedly divorced from contemporary concert culture: correctional facilities, mental health clinics, elder care centers, churches. There are no stages and a dialogue between performers and audiences is not only encouraged, but is considered a facet of a successful concert. We seek to dismantle the physical and metaphorical barriers that prevent universal access to music and ideas. We seek to educate through means both conventional (program notes) and dynamic (a blog, Facebook, unorthodox programming). We seek to communicate with our audiences as equals, not--as the musical institution has advocated--within the mentality of binaries: artist versus dilettante, intellectual elite versus uneducated pleasure-seeker.
Recently, my research has taken a decidedly Marxist direction: I've got critical theory coming out of my ears. The basic question of course is how do we go about freeing the intellectually oppressed. For me the answer was access and thus, CMM's new mission statement was born. I'd love to hear what anyone out there has to say about this draft. As you can see, I want more than anything to address the problem of class as it relates to the experience of classical music...
Update: "uneducated pleasure-seeker" seems harsh, right? I want to make obvious the subtle power plays of the institution. I certainly don't feel this way, but I want to make it clear that this sort of attitude is prevalent (maybe "rampant" is an even better word) in the musical, intellectual and certainly academic communities. I'm talking about not only performers, but also arts administration. What is worse is that often, arts organizations trick themselves into believing that they participate in outreach, that they are making themselves accessible to the "masses" when in fact, they only perpetuate the us and them mentality. Free concerts are often held outside the concert hall, thus codifying the aforesaid ideas of class separatism. Furthermore, the repertoire chosen for these concerts often represents only the canonical standards (ie, that which is known to sell tickets): by limiting the public's exposure to new works, the musical establishment only promotes its intellectual supremacy.
When I began writing this update, I did not expect that by the end of the first paragraph I would be so securely perched upon my soap-box. Obviously, this is merely an introduction, but you get the point. I'll conclude by saying that CMM is different from the situation above because we do not (and I hope never will) perform in a traditional concert hall. Additionally, I try always to include a work on each program that would be challenging to the musician and the non-musician alike. The result has been illuminating, in fact. Often, it is the untrained ear that enjoys Berg more than Mozart.