This precious product called music
Updated: May 13, 2018
This past Sunday the College of Music presented a 9/11 Memorial concert, and in our remembering of that tragic day I was reminded of something else we musicians must never forget.
I was fortunate to have a composition of mine performed by a terrific ensemble of students, led by our opera conductor Nick Carthy. In addition to being part of a very special afternoon, the experience was meaningful to me personally because I don’t often to get to interact with students as composer-to-performer: we spend our time together talking about career goals and professional development, not making music. But this past weekend, we were co-creators of a musical experience.
I mention this because I think as people who are constantly performing and writing music it’s easy for us to take that experience for granted. And yet it is absolutely at the heart of what we’re about: we are musicians, and the ability to bring the healing and transformative power of music to a community that has come together (in this case, to bear witness to an emotional historical milestone) is our highest calling. It is something that we should never forget to celebrate.
There’s also an entrepreneurial lesson here, too. Entrepreneurs of all stripes must never lose sight of the fact that they are, at their core, about bringing their product to people. The most effective entrepreneurs value the product they offer and sincerely believe in its worth. The same is true for us. While it might make you uncomfortable to think about what we offered the packed Grusin Hall Sunday afternoon as a product, I argue that we should not shy away from that in the least. What we offered was a precious product of great value, and one that the enthusiastic audience clearly wanted. Let’s celebrate that! And let’s never lose sight of the fact that the artists who most effectively connect with their audience – and therefore, most effectively build a base of supporters necessary to fuel a successful career – are the artists who have an authentic love for what they offer, and a genuine passion to reach people with this very precious product we all have at our disposal: this thing called music.