I am privileged to be the music director of a fledgling professional chamber orchestra, Sinfonia Salt Lake, made up of some of the finest freelance talent in the region. Our concert last night, our second concert ever, was a resounding artistic success.
After a hellacious week of concert preparations, radio interviews, rehearsals, last minute emergencies and constant worries about finances, Sinfonia Salt Lake performed an energetic and refined program (Handel, Haydn, Purcell and Walton) with aplomb. We’ve happily discovered a superb acoustic at the historic First United Methodist Church in downtown Salt Lake City. Yet we performed to what a critic might refer to as a “small but enthusiastic audience.” You can interchange many adjectives for “enthusiastic:” appreciative, enraptured, attentive…but small is small. Quite simply, we had hoped for a much larger crowd.
“Small, but appreciative” doesn’t pay the bills, and yet something perhaps more important almost went by without notice last night.
Last night’s Sinfonia Salt Lake concert had four young visitors who rode their bikes 40 blocks from South Salt Lake to attend our performance. They were students from the Utah International Charter School, where we performed a school program last week and offered the students free admission for our concert. Part of our mission as an ensemble is to reach beyond the concert hall and into the community for every concert by partnering with underserved populations and community charities. This particular school teaches a diverse community of children largely from immigrant and refugee families. These four youngsters were so enthused by our contact with them, a mere 45 minutes with live music and musicians, that they traveled 7 miles by bicycle to attend the concert. They had to leave at intermission so they could get home before it got dark. They still had to ride 40 blocks to get home!
I’ll wager those kids made more personal investment that anyone else in the audience in order to attend our concert. And while we spent a lot of time beating the bushes and pulling our hair out trying to find the money for this concert, our investment in these kids may matter more in the long run. Yes, we need bigger audiences and donations to keep our ensemble afloat. But this type of story is one that reminds us of the greater purpose of being an artist. It is also something that we can use to illustrate how we as musicians can make a difference in the community.
So while we continue to fret about finances, even as we excitedly announce our next season, this provided a good perspective for what we can achieve beyond the notes on the page. Among all of the little details and stresses, it is nice to know there is something intangibly beautiful about what we do.
Picture: Sinfonia Concertmaster, Leslie Henrie with a new friend from our school concert
Information (and a donation button!) can be found on our website. Please consider spreading the word of our group and consider making a donation if desired and able. We really appreciate it!
Sinfonia Salt Lake’s mission is to provide professional quality classical music concerts with a community conscience. In addition to providing professional quality chamber orchestra concerts in various historic locales around the Salt Lake Valley, the ensemble has a unique mission to connect with the community for every concert by partnering with underserved populations and community charities. Collaborations have included the Utah Food Bank, and for this concert, the Utah International Charter School, a school serving largely children from immigrant and refugee families.
And if you are in the area, consider attending our concerts next season! You’ll be glad you did!
Sinfonia Salt Lake 2016-2017 Season
September 12: Italian Inspirations
- Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances No 3
- Mozart: Exsultate Jubilate (Melissa Heath, soprano)
- Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
October 10: Towards the Dark Side…
- Boccherini: Symphony No. 6, La Casa del Diavolo
- Hermann: Suite from Psycho
- Schubert/Mahler: Death and the Maiden
December 3: Amahl and the Night Visitors with Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble
- Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors
January 16: MLK Day Concert. The Voices of America. Guest speaker TBA
- Gould: Spirituals for Strings
- Edward Reichel: Night Echoes, World Premiere written for Sinfonia Salt Lake!
- Walker: Lyric for Strings
Copland: Appalachian Spring (original 13-instrument version)
March 13 (DATE yet to be confirmed) Vivaldi in the Ospedale: A New Concert Experience. Narrator/Actors/Dancers, TBA.
- Vivaldi: Concerti with Sinfonia players
- Hohnstein: Night in the Ospedale
May 15: A Mozart Family Affair. Gerald Elias, guest conductor
- Selections include a Sinfonia by Leopold Mozart, a Piano Concerto by Franz Xavier Mozart , and a Symphony by WA Mozart
June 24: Utah Arts Festival, Composers Chamber Commission Concert
Copyright 2016, Robert Baldwin, Before the Downbeat