In a world where classical music is considered nearly dead, Vivre Musicale is fighting to “let the music live.”
Comprised of select young classically trained artists and guest artists, Vivre Musicale challenges itself and society to push the limits of classical music. It seeks to redefine the notion that classical music is a thing of the past, a lost art form. As a multidimensional artistic experience, Vivre Musicale “hopes to diversify the would-be classical music audience, not limiting or pigeon-holing itself in a narrow frame of works but continually seeking to make connections between works of various styles.”
Currently in their 4th season, Vivre Musicale, via Kickstarter, is working to raise $15,000 to create “War & Peace,” which will be their first professional recording project. Featuring the work of Irish composer David Coonan, “the recording will continue Vivre Musicale’s mission by providing young artists real life experience collaborating on a professional recording that will enhance their careers while also creating a work of lasting art of which they can be proud.”
Having performed throughout the U.S., VM is primarily focused in the Baltimore/DC area, with Baltimore’s Artscape 2011 and DC’s Atlas Center’s INTERSECTIONS festival this past season, most notably. As winners of the 2011-2012 CMA/ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming and recipient of the 2012 Arts Council Music Commissions Award, they are a cause to care about, a cause to share with others and a cause worthy of your support.
Ally Otte: I read on your website that one of your goals is to blend a seasoned audience with a new vibrant audience. What would you say is the connecting element, the distinguishing characteristic that draws a new vibrant audience?
Berginald Rash, Artistic Director: In general I think the connecting element between the two audiences would be their appreciation for good music but what would draw a new, more vibrant audience would be the youthfulness of the group, the unique concert pairings, the juxtaposition of genres that find common ground, sometimes on a thread of similitude, the way we couple our live performance with different arts mediums, and above all the forward-looking momentum of its leadership and board.
Berginald Rash, Artistic director of Vivre Musicale
AO: In a world where classical music is pronounced dead, how do you change the way people think about classical music to broaden the scope of your outreach and bring it back to life?
BR: Jorge and I tend not to look at classical music as a “set-in-stone” kind of practice, nor do we see classical music in a “sacred-cow” sort of way that suggests that new ways to interpret it and/or consume it are sacrilegious. In addition to that, this is classical music as expressed by a newer generation of artists with ideas that follow perhaps along the line of tradition but at the same time yearn for a difference in expression. Our artists have something to say and want to say it in a way that has been perhaps never heard before. To that end we definitely recognize, appreciate, and respect tradition but we are not bound to tradition but like to think of tradition as a jumping off point for creativity. We encourage thinking outside of the box and we ask our artists to do so. In addition to just the semantics of the art form, many of our artists don’t look the part of a “classical musician” or what one would think a classical artist would look like. Many have very interesting stories about their path to the arts and their continuation in the arts, which we think adds an extra element of life. Essentially, because the artists who perform the work live, create, and are influenced by creativity and spontaneity our artwork lives in their expression and communication of their art. There’s an excitement that happens naturally in live performance, and I think given the nature of our performance practice, where our artist meet, often for the first time, at the first rehearsal there’s kind of an immediacy and energy that passes between them that requires both concentration and immediate response in an artistic way, at least that is the intent. There’s not a lot of time spent on creating a standard, read lethargic, interpretation of the work but a need to respond in the moment to what the artists hears and in so doing create anew a work that might have lived in centuries, which, when you think about it, is more akin to the standard performance practice of the day, particularly in the classical era. That is not to suggest that our performances aren’t polished or refined but that it’s human, its alive in that moment, and was not necessarily rehearsed to sound the way it sounds at the performance and if you hear it the following night, won’t sound the same.
AO: I love that – the sound of authenticity and live performances as raw, living music. There is this idea that music should be clean and clear and exact, especially thinking of classical music. Your artists have quite a unique interpretation, which will certainly draw in an audience who otherwise may never give it a shot. Can you tell me a little about War & Peace?
BR: Thank you Ally, we really take pride in our vision for VM and hope it’s something that our audiences and audience to come will appreciate. We try to be very thoughtful in our planning which I think is evident in this season’s line-up. In terms of War & Peace overall it’s Vivre’s reaction to the present day notions of war and it’s antithesis peace, in that war and what we war against has taken on new forms, new topics, but at the heart of it it’s fundamentally the same. The season overall treats these notions of war through musical expression and contrasts them with notions of peace, the inquietude of peace, the hope for peace, etc.
AO: And the 3 concerts – Disturbia, Humanity and Sexuality?
BR: Disturbia is really about politics and how many of the physical wars today circle politics, using as inspiration the political uprisings such as the Arab Spring, 15M in Spain, the Occupy Movement and the rhetorical, philosophical, and albeit political war of politics in general. This concert uses primarily voice as the sounding box for this war as the human voice can carry lyrics and the human form, expression.
Humanity treats the war of identity and race, humanity essentially. With the strong reaction form both sides regarding Trayvon Martin and the question of immigration in America, this concert really draws from our differences to find commonality between the seemingly disparate. Looking at the concert program you will find traditionally classical works paired with jazz, gospel, Latin music, spirituals, etc. as a way to show the communication between the dichotomies.
Sexuality is the war that the LGBTQ community as well as the most recent war on women’s rights and the powers that be that stand against their progress. For Jorge and I these last two concerts are particularly meaningful being that he is Latino and I’m Black and that we’re both openly gay males living these “wars” daily. The concert features works by gay composers as well as works that treat the subject of gay identity and a women’s role. I must also confess that this concert, Sexuality, was the hardest to program for as there are so many directions in which we could go, but at the end of the day decisions have to be made. We’re hoping that through Forum, our answer to the pre-concert talk, we can provide a speaking platform for artists and pundits alike to discuss openly in a round-table “The View” like atmosphere that doesn’t leave the audience necessarily with all the answers but with food for thought, perhaps more questions to consider, and an opportunity to, as our season states, reflect, understand, and accept.
AO: Certainly an engaging and enlightening endeavor. I look forward to your success as an organization and as musical pioneers.
Let the music live… Vivre Musicale!