Launch at the Lake
Our first event was a launch concert overlooking White Rock Lake in the home of Barbara Bradfield. Barbara’s home features a high-ceilinged, wood paneled chamber - complete with a pipe organ as the room’s centerpiece - designed by an acoustician when her home was built.
After months of planning, re-planning, stress, doubt, excitement, etc. etc…. (imagine your senior recital or thesis presentation times eleven), we arrived at the inaugural rehearsal of the Verdigris Ensemble to prepare for our first event the following day. Sam was nervous; I was nervous, and the other singers arrived not knowing what to expect. As we relaxed into the rehearsal process and started to see the eight different pieces develop in sound and expression, we started to look towards the event with more hope and less anxiety.
With Mark Zlotsky, an NYC-based architect, and Jake Brukhman, a blockchain technologist and Verdigris board member, arrived in town, we made a mad dash to get the website and social media platforms ready for their first traffic.
With Sam navigating the newly formed ship, we were essentially a group of arts entrepreneurs facing our very first “pitch” to a roomful of potential donors and advocates.
The night of event, we gathered for sound check and set-up, everyone feeling the buzz of high adrenaline, uncertainty, and anticipation. As the guests started to arrive, we greeted and mingled, directing people towards the table of food (mostly donated by wonderful area businesses Haute Sweet Patisserie and Coco Andre) and pouring wine (also donated by a local wine distributor), we felt Barbara’s home grow warm with the conversation that you could only find in a room full of choir nerds about to witness the birth of a new ensemble.
After about 45 minutes, we encouraged people towards the concert space, and Sam began his pitch. He spoke about his vision for a choir that thinks deeply about cohesive, thought-provoking programming, that presents pieces that are individually profound and that together form a greater artistic and aesthetic whole. He spoke about pioneering into the worlds of blockchain funding for nonprofits, about making outreach a central and regular part of the choir’s season.
At the conclusion of his pitch, he invited the choir out to present eight pieces. The small set was performed continuously - without applause - and orbited around three quotes from Wright brother’s correspondence during the early stages of their experimentation. A sense of flight, both literally in pieces about birds, and wordlessly in the percussive, relentless music of Sperry’s Desh, permeated the set. In the quotes, read by singers between pieces, the brothers express their certainty in the potential of their idea, but they haven’t yet flown perfectly.
As a choir, we sat at the top of a hill in a craft we had carefully designed but that we had not yet flown. At that event we began to sense momentum and the wind pulling in our wings, and we have not yet seen the outcome of our flight. In fact, we hope this plane doesn’t land.
After the event, some of the singers along with Mark and Jake headed to a nearby bar to debrief. We happened to choose a bar that was featuring live music cranked so loudly that it rendered even shouted conversation fruitless. We sipped our drinks and downed the dinner we had been too nervous to eat before the event almost wordlessly, with the din from the stage eventually turning into white noise around us. Happy, almost silent, and exhausted, we sat satisfied and relieved, not debriefing but smiling across the table at each other and mentally marinating in what we had just experienced.
We learned from that first event. We learned that perfecting some things - like the choir’s web presence - is significantly more time consuming than expected. We learned that the subtle details of beautifully designed invitations and season booklets lend a subconscious legitimacy to our efforts. Sam had his first run of his pitch, and there are words, inflections, and body language that need refinement. There are some pieces on the launch program that might be revisited or replaced after having experienced performing them with eight people. We learned that people are excited about the idea and the ensemble. That they care about fueling the arts and arts outreach.
Overall, gratitude was the word of the day. So many donations and acts of generosity fueled that evening. We are seriously excited to revisit this program in the next month.