I've been asked to offer a few teasers about opening night, and to be frank, I'm a little hesitant to do so. I simply don't want to ruin the surprise. AND, I'm completely devoted to this off-beat structure of a concert. However, the astute patron might get a few clues from this post.
First things first, how did I come up with the concept of a surprise birthday concert. Well, like all good ideas, I stole it. Soon after I had accepted the position as Artistic Director of WPA, but before it was officially announced, I was on a run with my marathon training team. Although I was on a WPA news “embargo,” I thought my running mate that day wouldn’t really care about the specifics of my new job, so I told him. Turns out, he was VERY curious, so I told him about the Festival, the Academy, and what I would be doing. Here’s part of the conversation:
- Run-mate: “So, you do mostly classical music?”
- Me: “Mostly – we have a fully professional orchestra and an academy that centers around classical music.”
- Run-mate: “I like classical music. I could listen to Bach all day long!”
- Me: “That’s great!” (breathe, breathe, pant, pant)
- Run-mate: “But, I rarely go to concerts.”
- Me: “What!? Why not.” I expected the – too expensive, too fancy, too intimidating response (all of which is myth, by the way, but that’s for another time).
- Run-mate: “Because I like being surprised. I love rock concerts, for example. You go, and you have no idea what’s going to happen. You might be able to guess a few songs that will be on the concert, but you don’t know the order and you don’t know what new pieces the band will play. The crowd becomes part of the show, as they wait with anticipation for the next number, wondering what it might be. They listen intently to the new songs, and when the band starts something they know – one of the band’s most famous songs, like 'Freebird' – they go nuts.”
So, with 2015 being the 20th anniversary of Wintergreen Performing Arts, I stole my running mate’s idea and turned opening night into a surprise birthday party that will musically reveal itself as the evening unfolds. Everyone will get a commemorative program when they leave.
And, now, the teaser: what can you expect? Well, you can expect some old favorites and some new traditions. This concert will tell the story of Wintergreen Performing Arts, from its very first year to the arrival of favorite artists, from the establishment of new programs to the future of the organization. To come up with the program, I interviewed patrons, volunteers, and musicians alike about their favorite WPA memories. I studied the history of the organization, marking important occasions by year. We will have special guests performing and in attendance – guests who helped give birth to the organization and kept it growing throughout the last 20 years. We will recreate some of the musical highlights – from solo works by [REDACTED] performed by [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]; a jazz piece by [REDACTED] featuring our own [REDACTED]; even a touching performance of [REDACTED] performed by two people who [REDACTED].
(Sorry – I just can’t tell you).
I can say, however, that if you have been a part of the Wintergreen family for years, you will have several “Freebird” moments. And, if you’re new, you’ll experience the joy, the talent, and the camaraderie that we have built over the last 20 years between our musicians, our staff, our board, our volunteers, and our patrons. Just think, in another 20 years, your memories will be a part of this concert!