Sunday, November 16, 2008

In our Own Backyard...

If you do nothing else Monday from 10 – 11:30 am, go to the Strategic Plan Task Force in the Wolfinsohn room. Not only will you get a nice hand out and chat with Karen Zorn (who has a great sense of humor), but you’ll have a chance to see the kind of thinking that is propelling this institution forward and, moreover, be a part of it! I bring it up here because, in light of our reading, I see it as breaking out of the same ideologies that we have been examining and enacting a new paradigm that, I think, is and antidote to music’s past and analogous to music’s future.


First, the process itself – The entire student body is openly invited to take part in the visioning of Longy. Right away we move away from a hierarchical dictatorship into a collaborative relationship. (The analogy being the top-down, one way street hierarchy of composer -> performer -> audience).

The common theme that runs throughout the vision is PARTNERSHIP. In that same boat are the ideas of community, connections, and diversity. This idea of partnership comes out of the desire to meet the needs of the community- to offer what is needed. I find this significant because it is a reversal of the intention that gave rise to the modern symphony orchestra (as recounted by Levine); that intention being the desire to no longer have to rely on the support of the community and therefore, no longer have to meet or fulfill it’s wants and needs.

I think too, we can see how that thinking was taken up by other musical institutions: conservatories and schools set apart from the community, aspiring to things far greater (an aesthetic ideal) than the provinciality of the community in which it is set – perpetuating exclusivity and sacralization.

Contrast that with Longy, who receives more than 2/3 of its budget from tuition (that includes conservatory students, prep and continuing ed. students). Longy’s endowment is small ($8 Million) and so relies very heavily upon support (money or otherwise) from those who wish to study at or support Longy. To survive, then, it MUST remain relevant to the community. By association, we, as students, have the opportunity to orient ourselves to this communal-minded spirit and can become a part of enacting this particular paradigm.

What is of value, what is the living force of Longy, then, is the work that is being done as opposed to the focus on the production ‘works’ (‘works’ being in the form of awards, won auditions, published articles, and other quantifiable measures). Again, I see a significant correlation here between Cook’s perspective of looking at music in terms of what it DOES, rather than what it represents. Using the analogy of music, Longy is not a static ‘work’, yoking its initiated participants to its immovable tradition. Longy has a vision where those involved are creating the institution; giving it it’s meaning and significance (not the other way around).

Karen Z. said it best when she said (I am paraphrasing), “We want Longy to be not just a great education but a great experience.” That’s something everyone can be a part of!

Now, where did I put that application for Director of Public Relations at Longy…

1 comment:

Emily said...

Unfortunately, with most of us being pianists, we will be missing the meeting because it coincides with department seminar! :-(