working, progressing at the de Young Museum

11872079_10153546679419723_7030874285017375345_oWow, what a night that was. After a strenuous rehearsal where we tore through a LOT of new material at breakneck pace, my stellar mini ensemble of winds and strings set up shop in the tower at the de Young Museum for our second work-in-progress event there this month.  I was a little apprehensive because this was the smallest iteration of the band I’d tried performing with in public – 6 people sounds bare to me now! – and we had no films projected this time, so the onus was really on the music to hold everyone’s attention and create something for the people in attendance to hold onto. We played completely acoustic, and that can also make you feel vulnerable in an uncontrolled environment.

We set up in a circle, and were quickly surrounded by dozens and dozens of people, leaning against the glass walls, the stairwell, just hovering over us. What an incredible experience it turned out to be, to talk about all the ideas, stories, research behind this project for the first time, to a group of really curious, interested people.  And then play the music, as it was that night – no drums or guitar or electronics, no amps or films or vocals.  The ensemble really had to connect and gel to deliver this music as such a small group, and it was very good for us I think to have to be in that slightly uncomfortable, exposed zone.  As the night progressed, and the sun set through the windows, it felt more like all these people were visiting us in our rehearsal space or living room, rather than us having this division that we were performing, they were listening in this very public space. And that lack of formality created a connection that was very powerful for me.  I knew I’d learn a lot about the music, and where I wanted it to go, how I wanted to revise it, in holding these preview events–but I didn’t realize that these events were also little focus groups, a chance to interact with listeners and share some of my excitement about where all this work is coming from, with some new people.  Kind of unbelievable.

{Photo by Dina Maccabee)