I tried something new yesterday, drawing inspiration from Nina Simon's The Art of Relevance. Before the season's first major event, I instructed the team of volunteers directing patrons to their seats to ask, "Is this your first Mass in B minor?" If it was, they were offered this one-page note of welcome. It's too soon to know how this experiment landed overall, but my early indications are positive. This absolutely gave people a point of connection that led to conversations during intermission and after the concert.
My first Mass in B minor
A welcome note from Heath Marlow, Director of Development
Thanks for joining us for this evening's performance! We've been looking forward to sharing this exquisite music with you for some time now. Our musicians have been preparing together all week, attempting to create the most meaningful musical experience that they can provide for you, our valued listeners.
As Ryan, our artistic director, likes to say, we welcome you, wherever you are on your musical journey. People seated near you may have grown up listening to—or even singing!—this music. For them, this concert may summon nostalgic memories of people and places from their personal histories. Others in the audience may have been introduced the music of J.S. Bach later in life, either through friends or through their own exploration of classical music. Still others may be encountering this music for the first time tonight.
If you are new to Bach, I’d like to share a perspective that you may find useful. First of all, performing this piece of music is an enormous undertaking. This evening’s performance will last nearly two and a half hours. There are not many things in our lives that require us to sit still and pay attention for that long. You may experience moments of rapture; you may experience moments of boredom. Either is possible across an entire evening's worth of listening to music.
This is my first time hearing this music performed live. I'm hoping it will be a memorable evening. Sometimes I find that, just by noticing that we are all sitting silently and sharing a communal experience in a space of incredible physical and acoustical beauty, I begin to relax and listen more deeply. I think that this may be because I’m reminded of how uncommon this experience is, and how the rest of my daily routine is so very different.
For all of us in the room this evening, music has the potential to affect us in personal and powerful ways. And sometimes not. After all, there’s no right or wrong way to experience music. We may each come away from this performance with a few moments that stay with us. I hope that you find—and keep—whatever it is in this incredible work by Bach that is of most value to you.
If you wish to share it with me, I'd love to hear about your experience, either directly after the concert or by email. I’ll be curious to learn what makes this evening memorable.
Sharing project documentation and examples of student thinking, and my own.