Community based music and ensembles are a rich part of our culture and history, and since being back in Memphis I’ve been able to do my part in the continuation of the tradition. A newly formed orchestra here, the Memphis Repertory Orchestra, was the first on my list of community involvement. This group, being comprised of both local professionals and students, was such a great ensemble to be a part of, because of the community it created – a community of people who wanted to experience “Scheherazade” once again. Yes, this was a free gig, but being in a hall with people who love music for music’s sake brought a certain magic to the performance, which extends into the listening audience, bringing the entire community of music lovers together for just a little while longer.
Another community-based group I took part in recently was playing as a ringer with the Germantown Youth Symphony Orchestra. This orchestra gives high school students in the area the opportunity to learn and perform orchestral literature for the purpose of both education and exposure. All over the news we can see that bullying is a problem in our schools and amongst young people, but such a thing was completely inexistent in this group. The innocence of young musicians is a precious treasure, and this lack of ego creates a community for these aspiring musicians. Although being a freelance musician can be very trying, playing in this group helped remind me why I picked up the instrument for the first time.
Last Friday I played (flute/piccolo) with the Crittenden County Community Band for a West Memphis, AR “Relay for Life” event. Although we’re few in number, we provided the West Memphis community with a great, good ole fashioned outdoor band concert – something that’s slowly disappearing. Many of the leading professional wind bands, including the Dallas Wind Symphony, started as small community groups like this, so there’s no telling what the CCCB is capable of! My personal affinity for wind music (and my desire to keep my flute chops up) is enough for me to take part in this group of people young and old, who at some point in their lives were fortunate enough to have signed up for middle school band class.
If you have an instrument, get it out and see what musical communities you can become a part of (or even create). If you’re not a musician, go to an open mic night, or simply find a street musician and shake his hand. I know that none of us seem to have time for anything these days, but see if you can’t reach out into one of the communities you consider your own for the sake of art or music.