In my effort to find everything I can about the horn and music in general on the web, I came across the Adaptistration site written by Drew McManus. TAFTO, Take a Friend to The Orchestra month, which is in April, is his brainchild and is a wonderful idea. But as I was reading about it I realized that even more important was to take me to the orchestra. Ahem.
I’ve been very lax about attending orchestra concerts. In fact I haven’t been to one in my area in many years. Shame on me. (I did go see La Boheme a few years ago in NYC but that doesn’t really count as local.) In my defense, when I was gainfully employed in a marketing career, I traveled extensively and did attend a few concerts in cities that I was visiting.
Why not when I was at home? Two reasons (excuses?). One, basically I’m lazy and since I live in Long Island, NY I thought that the NY Phil was my only choice. A trip into Manhattan is at least a two hour drive and it just didn’t seem worth the effort. Two, with all the traveling for my job and raising four kids, I was perpetually exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was go out. Sometimes I had to head out of town without much notice so buying advance tickets to anything was risky.
I’m being brutally honest here. Local orchestras near me weren’t even on my radar screen. I just didn’t realize there were any close by. (I define close by as a maximum 45 minute drive.) I know many of you are thinking how could this be but I think of LI as a sprawling suburb of NYC and if I want to do anything cultural I have to go into the city to do it. I lived in Manhattan when I was a kid and then in the suburbs about twenty minutes commute from Manhattan so that’s what my mindset was. Once I took up the horn again I did search out who the local orchestras are but I still haven’t attended a concert.
I come from a family of musicians. My grandfather founded the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and my mother was a professor of composition for something like 50 years and chair of the department for many of them at the Manhattan School of Music. I did attend concerts at MSM but that really isn’t supporting one’s local orchestra. Growing up in that environment exacerbated my NYC only mindset. Everything we did was in the city. Granted when I was a kid my parents had to drag me to concerts but that evolved into a true love of music and attending concerts was a big part of that. You’d think that with my family history I’d be going to concerts all the time.
I’ve been reading about the financial problems that are plaguing our orchestras. It’s heartbreaking and to think that my lack of attendance contributed, even in a very small way, to this makes me feel even worse. To those of you who read my blog and play in an orchestra, which I suspect is almost everyone, I offer many mea culpas. I hope that my revelations here don’t stop you from reading my blog.
My search to find the orchestras near me was not easy. Most of the ones I now know about I learned of through word of mouth. Some of them have a web presence but none of them showed up in Google, the Long Island Philharmonic notwithstanding. I wonder how many more people, especially those not part of the inner circle of musicians, would attend concerts if they knew about them. I know when I was promoting my band concert a couple of months ago almost everyone I spoke to was thrilled to hear about a nearby concert and at least ten of the people I spoke to attended.
Back to TAFTO. As I read more and more about many orchestras’ need to reduce their concert schedule for budget reasons the voice in my head said ‘you should go.’ It’s reading and thinking about TAFTO that has changed that voice to ‘you must go.’ Not out of obligation but because I love music and want to go. It’s the impetus that will get me there. I will find and attend at least one concert in the next several weeks and I’ll bring a friend.
All of this begs the question of why would I write this blog? Actually I’m wondering myself. But even if only one person reads this who hasn’t been to a concert lately (in the audience) ends up going it’s worth it. And if they bring a few friends with them, even better.