This time four years ago, in the historic city of Utrecht, Netherlands, I was contemplating “how am I to do it.”
The task of recruiting musicians to study my music and perform (or rather, premiere) it for the first time and only once — without compensation — was a daunting one.
It would have been easiest to have just one performer play my music. And that performer could be me. After all, I know my own music. I wouldn’t need to find other musicians, convince them to rehearse, and take the risk of playing music that’s never been performed or heard before. And to play it just once? After all that studying?
Next easiest would be to write music for a duo or a limited number of players. Why did I challenge myself with producing a half-hour-long opera with a sizable ensemble, choir, and soloists? There had to be separate rehearsals with the choir. This was not the path of least resistance.
Where could I find these musicians? Ask their teachers? Approach them one at a time?
How would I get musicians to do it? I asked other composition students. How did they do it? Nobody had written a chamber opera with so many performers before. Orchestra yes. But not opera.
What I learned from those months from February to June 2008 was how to produce a concert with no budget. What was involved? It was a collaborative effort.
- recruiting musicians
- scheduling rehearsals
- getting the musicians to arrive on time
- getting the musicians to show up
- getting the musicians to commit
- organizing the music (making the part scores)
- changing and editing the music
- preparing the programming notes
- preparing the slides for the overhead projector
- setting put the stage
- getting the event photographed and recorded
- doing the publicity
- getting help (stage manager, stagehands, usher)
- ordering flowers to thank the musicians and selecting wine to thank the conductors
- arranging post-concert refreshments for the audience
- arranging dinner for the musicians
- getting sponsors to pay for printing programs (PDF) and posters and the rest
- getting the posters and programs printed
Thinking back, these skills are transferrable, for now I am managing an expanding team of volunteers. I am not paying them. They are not paying me. But we all work to the same goal.