The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society finishes its 19th summer with same attendance, fewer grants and more great music-making

August 10, 2010
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

This summer, I blogged about how impressive the concerts by the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society were.

So I asked their manager, Samantha Crownover, to provide an overview of the season that the fiscal year has ended.

Here is her reply:

This 19th season, BDDS invited 12 guest artists to perform with artistic directors Stephanie Jutt and Jeffrey Sykes (below).  They were from across the country and from Wisconsin itself.

BDDS performed 12 concerts in four cities: Madison, Mineral Point, Stoughton, and Spring Green (below).

Although we perform in different cities, the vast majority of those who attend are from the greater Madison area.

Most audience members are ages 50 – 69 years.

We saw a total of over 1,700 ticket-buying audience members (on par with last year’s attendance), 400 children at our outreach program at Camp Shalom, and about 300 seniors at two concerts: Capitol Lakes and Middleton Glen.

We also held special open rehearsals for our Fan the Flames patrons (musician and music sponsors) at Edenfred, where the musicians stay, rehearse, and cook and eat together for the week they are here.

Some of the highlights of this summer’s festival were incorporating short readings from the books whose titles we adopted as concert titles, such as “East of Eden,” “The Sound and the Fury” and “Dangerous Liaisons.  Actors from the newly established Forward Theater Company read these excerpts at each concert.  The combination of music and the spoken word was a treat for our audience.

We also invited visual artist, UW-Madison professor Carolyn Kallenborn, to create three different backdrops for our performances in The Playhouse at Overture Center (below):

From our grant evaluators:

“This was a very impressive concert, no surprise for BDDS. BDDS presents a diverse array of chamber music in a very welcoming, friendly context. Informal introductions precede each piece. They attract absolutely top-notch musicians from across the country to play with them, while not ignoring local talent. Tickets are accessibly priced. At this particular concert, a piece of fabric art was created to form a backdrop across the stage. I appreciate BDDS’ efforts to incorporate art from different media into their concerts. They consistently provide outstanding musical and artistic experiences and make classical music very accessible.”

“I’d never been to a Bach Dancing & Dynamite performance before. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the performances. The performers and pieces were clearly carefully chosen, and it was obvious that there was a passion to communicate (or to share) this material to the audience. This always means so much to me as an audience member. I greatly admired the casual, accessible tone that the concert took. I felt it added to my enjoyment and understanding of the music. I think Bach Dancing & Dynamite is a great resource for Dane County residents.”

Adds Crownover: We received half of our usually anticipated grant funding.  Competition is more intense due to the weaker economy and understandably, grantors have been granting less to more groups rather than not fund many groups at all.

We are greatly looking forward to celebrating our 20th season next summer.  We will make it a very special year … including publishing a cookbook with recipes of some of the great food we brag about!

If you want to ask more specific questions, please do!  But here’s bottom line: Same number of attendees, less grant revenue, same donor generosity, SUCCESSFUL ARTISTIC PROGRAM!!

What would you tell BDDS about this success of this summer’s programs?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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