House concert for your friends

Many friends have expressed great enthusiasm about coming to our concerts, if we’re ever in their neck of the woods. The saying, “if Mohammed can’t come to the mountains, …” echoes in my mind. We will have to go to where our friends are, otherwise they may never see us in concert.

In this Internet age, it’s easy to listen to music and watch videos online. But live music cannot be experienced online.

We traveled to Maui in December 2007 to see my mother and my sister who had never seen us in concert. We gave a free concert so they could come with their friends. On the way, we stopped in Houston and gave two house concerts and an hour interview and live performance on Houston Public Radio.

We’re about to do it again.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in Amsterdam, 2004. Photo: Serge van Empelen

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in Amsterdam, 2004. Photo: Serge van Empelen

Just how will this work?

Our friends know their cities and neighbourhoods better than we do. Before we can plan a trip to go there, we need to know if a concert can be scheduled. What are the chances of getting a concert at a particular location in a particular period?

I ask our friends to consider the following decision making points.

Abdicate (get someone else to do it). Do you know a concert producer in your area? Could you sound out if there’s an interest in organising a concert for us, so that you can attend — and invite your friends and family?

Concerts can take place in all sorts of locations. The most obvious is a concert hall with a regular series of concerts. However, these may require longer lead times to arrange. Other possibilities include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric clinics, libraries, churches, museums, theatres, art galleries, music stores, hotels, cafes, and restaurants. Again, the easiest is to find the ones where previous concerts have already taken place.

Take control. Do you have a piano in your home or in a place where you can get access to? Would you consider organising a house concert?

If you plan to produce a concert, you probably want to know how you can cover your costs and pay the musicians.

Dutch treat: in the Netherlands, it’s okay to charge people (including your friends and family) to come to a concert that you’ve organised. You want to cover your costs as well as pay the musicians, just as you would caterers and other service providers to make an event happen.

Some hosts prefer to absorb all the costs (as I did in London when I was working full-time and wanted to entertain my friends.)

US gift: in the US, where philanthropy is high, it’s common for a sponsor, such as the concert host, to bear the cost to pay the musicians. It can be a dinner party for his/her friends with live concert. It’s also accepted in the house concert circuit to charge the listeners.

In addition, musicians who have CDs or merchandise can sell them to top up their earnings as well as to promote themselves.

The videos at PianoKey, an organisation founded by the pianist Kimball Gallagher who is giving 88 concerts in the 50 states, describe the hows and whys of salon culture, the so-called house concert. Another pianist, Adam Tendler, had successfully played in all 50 states. He started his tour without having booked all 88 concerts. Surely all these venues with pianos are candidate locations!

So far, we have received invitations of accommodation in the following locations in the USA: Boston, Woodstock (NY), Washington DC, Verno Beach (FL), Houston, Phoenix, Denver, Davis (CA), and Maui. We have received offer of concert opportunities in Connecticut, Houston, and Phoenix.

The deadline is looming. We have to make our travel arrangements soon. Which comes first? The concert or the plane ticket?



Filed under audience, concert, planning, travel, venues

3 responses to “House concert for your friends

  1. Pingback: House concert invitation « Concert Blog

  2. Pingback: The nonlinear process of concert bookings « Concert Blog

  3. Pingback: House concerts: a cottage industry | Concert Blog

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