Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Ad Hoc: Music for Music's Sake

Hello there,

Have you ever heard of a musical "ad hoc?" I had not until I came to the Jacobs School, but now that I do, I think it is something that deserves some special recognition. This was a truly incredible musical experience unlike any other I have ever had!

An ad hoc, as the name implies, is a concert that is arranged with a pick-up group of musicians who rehearse a few times before giving a performance, usually including a solo concerto with another orchestral work. The idea is for students to create their own opportunities to gain experience performing concertos with orchestra; but the trick, of course, is to assemble the players. But how do you get an entire symphony-sized group of musicians and a conductor to all volunteer a weekend?

To me, it seems a tremendously daunting task; after all, finding even one or two people to commit to various projects has, from my experience elsewhere, been a complicated enough affair. Well, I was shocked by what I saw when I agreed to participate in one of these ad hocs last month - there we were, a very large, full orchestra all coming together on a Sunday afternoon to give a concert of the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 and Beethoven's Leonore Overture. Eighty-some people! After playing, working, and practicing all week in endless rehearsals, lessons, coachings, extra projects, and not to mention homework, these students had more music-making to do!

But in addition to the sheer number of people who generously came to play and support their colleagues, there was an enthusiasm and mutual love of music-making that resulted in a concert which, although was not perfect, was entirely unique and held a special joy. This ideal of music being made simply for music's sake.....where one is not playing for remuneration, course credits, recognition, or career advancement, but rather because one must make music. I couldn’t help but hear George Balanchine’s well-known quote in my head, “I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance.” Here we were, creators of music who have to play!

Ad hocs are going on all the time here. It’s something which, at the time of my own experience, I found to be deeply touching and inspiring; once again, it made me feel so proud to be a part of JSoM! Cicely calls it a “musicians’ paradise.” It is!

All for now.