Sunday, October 28, 2012

Playing With Your Food

Our mothers always said, "don't play with your food," but some people never listened. So what happens when musicians play with their food?

Well, as it turns out, you get an orchestra.

After hearing the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, all I can say is that music can be anything. The members of this ensemble have made a career out of making music where most people only see food. The innovations of this ensemble call to our attention some of the ideas that John Cage introduced us to in music. Music can be found everywhere and anywhere. Just as Cage heard music in the traffic of the city, the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra finds music in the produce we consume every day.

I applaud the creativity of this orchestra. They provide a fresh outlook on music performance, and challenge the preconceptions we harbor about what constitutes a concert. What the orchestra does is completely unpretentious. I have never had the privilege to attend a live concert given by the VVG, but unlike most symphonies, there is an air of musical openness about them.

Sadly, the orchestra hasn't toured the United States since 2010, and is not planning another U.S. tour any time soon. The group has been together since 1998 and is still touring Europe and giving regular concerts (when the vegetables are in season). I am impressed that they have turned a seemingly crazy idea in a viable, money-making career. I think it is safe to say that they will never be called starving artists. Given their successes, I wonder what future there is for non-traditional ensembles. We have had previous posts about Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir and the Dr. Who Fan Orchestra. These projects have both been very successful and produced some inspiring musical content. I think we are beginning to see a further expansion of the art form as we explore new ways to make music and money. Who knows what types of venues await us. If instruments can be made from bell peppers and carrots, we can only guess what sort of ensembles will emerge in the years to come and how we will be a part of it.

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