Art for art’s sake only may be sustainable in a big city like New York, London, or Amsterdam. But on Maui, where there are plenty of other things to do outdoors, to sit down and watch a concert indoors without coughing or speaking for 2 hours seems a sacrifice if you’re only here for a week.
But if you live on Maui, it’s another story.
What we need on Maui, an island of 727 square miles and population 158,000 with 2 to 3 million annual visitors a year, is a critical mass of an audience for art music. By “art music” I refer to anything from Renaissance to 21st century avant garde music, spanning most of what we know as “classical music.”
When I count the number of classical music concerts at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC), which is equivalent of the Carnegie Hall of New York City, Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, and Royal Albert Hall of London, it averages one concert per month. And these concerts don’t get sold out either.
Every time I’ve gone to these concerts, I wondered to myself “where’s everybody?” How can they miss Dame Kiri Te Kanawa? How can they miss the San Francisco Pocket Opera? How can they miss the Van Cliburn winner?
How did Elton John sell out a concert and had to add another one the very next day? Elton John was classically trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
How did TedxMaui 2012 and 2013 fetch a full-house at the 1,200 seat Castle Theater at the MACC?
A critical mass can be created from a mailing list, the way Gordon Beal, the temptation of London, has done for art music, theatre, art exhibitions, and other events. He made it a “can’t miss” social event. You will not be lost. You will not be alone. You will not waste your time. His e-mails are sent early enough so you can decide if you want to go or not. His e-mails are specific enough so that you will know exactly what you’re getting into, what to wear, what to bring, what to expect.
One of our Monument House Concert Series fans said this of our house concerts: “I don’t need to bring anyone to your concerts. I can go alone because I know I will have a great time and great conversation.”
It’s not so at formal venues. Although the acoustics might be perfect, the performers exquisite, and the music awesome, you will be alone. You won’t interact with anyone else in the audience. There will be cliques — those long-time concert-goers who know each other and feel comfortable in each other’s presence. Unless you are like me, who enjoys going to concerts alone, most people, I daresay, are not like this.
So concert going becomes a social activity. For newcomers to Maui, it could be very attractive if there’s a group that welcomes you — and even better, pre-concert talks that explain the music, composers, and raison d’etre so you will appreciate it at a deeper level.
Tonight, I bring my first group — my 25 piano students and their guests to the Ebb & Flow Arts Concert at the MACC.