Part IV. Looking to Leonard Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma, Mozart, and Groupmuse As Case Studies In Versatility
Do you see your new program, Mannes In a New Key, preparing students to work not only as individual entrepreneurs, but also with businesses? Do you see this as a benefit, and if so, how can students at Mannes execute a strategy where they can make a living with businesses, or starting businesses?
The answer is, yes.
We want our students to look at the world around them, and to be able to ask the question of how can we bring to market what we do?
The market is so much broader than just Weill Recital Hall (a recital venue at Carnegie Hall).
We need to be using case studies from the way that this is developing.
What’s interesting about many individuals with “rarefied music careers” is this: many people who could have that old-world career, like Jascha Heifetz, who would have people carry his bags…have hit that place but want to have a much bigger impact on this world.
Yo-Yo Ma is a perfect example of this (with his Silk Road Ensemble). Midori created a music foundation.
Look at Renee Fleming, look at Philip Glass!
These are people who said, we want to be good musical citizens of the world.
So even the people who could have had the rarefied “carry-my-bag” career have chosen to be a part of a larger world.
It’s helpful to have people like Glass and Fleming as models. I think it’s also helpful to have (entrepreneurial young music ensemble) Groupmuse as model.
I do have a perfect business and musical model in mind.
And what’s that?
The model in my mind is actually Leonard Bernstein.
What is so interesting about Leonard Bernstein is that all of the following things are equal to him.
If you watch the videos of the Young People’s Concerts, he’s performing at a high level.
He’s advocating, he’s conducting.
And he can be serious too.
Instead of compartmentalizing the main-stage separate from the education stuff, separate from the composing stuff, all of these things were part of a fluidity, of a versatility.
It’s what we were talking about earlier, about restoring things to pre-20th century, where the artists are multi-faceted.
We’re also trying to restore an appreciation for non-classical forms.
Mozart understood the music playing in beer halls, Mozart understood the theater pieces.
And it’s not just from seeing Amadeus that I know this…
Richard and Bill: (laughs)
But it’s true!
So what happens is that you have to be able to build the sensibility that artists are citizens in a different and broader way.
It doesn’t negate the value of artistic excellence.
You have to give students the skills, you will be seeing more and more ensembles like Groupmuse, more and more people looking to generate ideas on how to make it.
Because they have to. If they want to make it, they’re going to have to generate ideas, and they will have to think.
It’s like jazz artists today, as the clubs are starting to disappear, you see young jazz artists going into flower shops, setting up Sunday concerts with a florist.
You see them invading alt-rock halls, and they are getting booked, because they have to!
And they can’t sit around – those kinds of historic clubs in jazz have really declined.
The idea of versatility is central.
Groupmuse and a whole bunch of other people are developing professional development networks, they are developing collaborations, they are developing new kinds of funding models we haven’t really seen in classical music.
You can also take a look at New Amsterdam Records.
They are composers, they are performers, they are a record company, they are a presenting arts organization, they are funders, they are a collective who supports one another, they rally one another. They perform in each other’s ensembles.
And that’s the spirit. We want students to say “I can do this too.”
In Part V on the next page, Richard and I talk about the 100-year anniversary of Mannes, and what makes Mannes a special place.