About neuroscience and music (mainly classical). Exploring the relationship of music and the brain based on experience of two careers.

September 23, 2016

End of Summer of Love, 2016

Our summer season ended on the 15th anniversary of September 11 with a "Tribute to Enrique Granados" by violinist Nancy Bean, cellist, Lloyd Smith, guitarist Allen Krantz, and mezzo-soprano, Elizabeth Shammash. That last program was diverse and exquisite. Our small offering of Granados' tonadillas should tempt you to listen to more, especially his wonderful piano music, and remember the sublime pianist Alicia de Larrocha. Granados can be neglected, perhaps partly because he perished prematurely aboard a torpedoed ship on an itinerary changed at the last minute so that he could play for President Wilson before returning to Spain from the premiere of his opera Goyescas at the Met.

Music of love v. terrorists and torpedos.

The weather was cool and breezy, and the Gretna community, devoid of the usual strollers and visitors after Labor Day, was unusually empty, calm, and quiet. It occurs to us that the early weeks of September would be a good time for future special events in the Playhouse, say a conference on Music and the Brain, or an in-depth exploration of the life and works of Brahms, or of Spanish composers. A true "Festival." 

Ombra mai fù
At our September breakfast board meeting, we toasted one of our most successful seasons with mimosas and shared favorite memories of the summer, the fourth in a row that ended "in the black." We pondered why our fortunes have been so bright during a time when classical music audiences are not growing and other similar organizations, especially orchestras, are suffering. 

It may not be an oversimplification to answer that our success -- like our 41-year sustainability -- results from the fact that for a growing number of people, our music has value far above the price of the tickets. We don't speak often of the "audience," nor think of ourselves as "providers." Music at Gretna is all of "us" whether on the stage, in the seats, on the staff, on the board, on a committee, on the volunteer staff or on the mailing list. Everyone talks of "we," all truly the owners of an organization who value and promote our mission to keep on making good music. Our concerts send us home with warm feelings of pride and ownership. And that inspires amazing generosity.

That's not to minimize the efforts and talents of our President, Gil Feinberg, our staff, Suzanne Stewart and Carl Kane, and all the fine musicians who graced our stage, porches and living rooms this summer. 

If maximizing "butts in the seats" were our mission, there would be no "we."

Our current financial solidity will allow us to reset the delicate balance between risk --necessary for excellence of any art -- and fiscal responsibility, necessary for the survival of any artistic organization. Since we nearly fell off the fiscal cliff five years ago, we have been operating closer to the responsibility end of the spectrum. Now, after careful stewardship of growing resources and a mountain of good will of a growing "us," we can reach farther in the same and different directions toward artistic creativity and excellence. Although that won't necessarily be toward more 'celebrated' performers, we are pleased that one direction will be to the Ware Center in Lancaster, in March 2017, where, in continuing collaboration with Millersville University, we will present violinist Hillary Hahn. Next Summer we will return to our longstanding tradition of chamber music on Sunday evenings: eight Sunday evenings in July through Labor Day, and perhaps more after that.

We hope we added some love to your life this summer. You have certainly added it to ours. We resume our schedule at Elizabethtown College on Saturday October 22, with pianist, Robert McDonald, Curtis and Juilliard faculty member, in loving memory of Nancy Hatz who cherished her role in his career.

* Ombra mai fú
 Never was the shade
  of a tree
  more delightful
  and cherished.