Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Collaborations and Space

Howdy to everyone out in internet land. Once again, I took a little break from writing. Glad to back to it though. Just moved last weekend to a new apartment in Mountain View. That–along with QUADRE's recent concert with Richard King–has inspired the topics today: Space and Collaboration.

Never can have enough space, can you. As I emptied my 5x10 storage space and moved into my new place, I came to wonder how I had acquired so much stuff. Do I really need six ponchos? When will I ever come to need a double cassette player again? And who had the bright idea of starting a hat collection?

In terms of the group, we've gathered our fair amount of stuff over the years. With our tenth anniversary coming up this February (this won't be the last time I mention it-get your balloons ready!), I have seen the ensemble buy all sorts of things over the years. Our collection of stuff includes: 3000 of our albums, 100 demo cassette tapes, 10 music stands, 4 stools, dozens of various percussion, embroidered apparel galore, videos, posters, cups, plates, napkins, and a lifesize cut-out of Nathan Pawelek (don't ask.) Add on top of that my music library that includes all our horn quartet repertoire (over 200 titles) plus various other combinations (over 200 more), and you have a lot of stuff.

This week we were considering moving all of it into a storage unit. (Currently it occupies the basement at my parent's house - Thanks Mom and Dad.) The cost - $83/month for a 5x6x10 space with a light. If you're interested, they have 6 units available at Stowit Mini Storage in Mountain View. However, it looks like it is going to stay in the basement for now which saves the group $1000/year.

However, one must ask why? Why do we seem, as a society, in love with our stuff? We gather up stuff every chance we get only to have to find a place to put it. And we seem to be getting more enamored each decade. Back in the 1960s, storage facilities didn't exist. In 2001, Public Storage which operates over 2000 storage centers nationwide posted sales over $800 million. Along with its competitors, that is over a billion dollars spent to store extra stuff!! Where is the fun in it all.

I'm afraid I don't have any answers. However, I, for one am going to try and eliminate the clutter by giving my stuff to other people. I figure why deal with the problem when you can just pass the buck, right? It will all work itself out in land fills and incinerators I'm sure. Until then, do you have any free space? I got a bunch of great hats and ponchos that you would love.

Over the years, QUADRE has had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing artists. These enriching artistic endeavors help to give your art context. For instance, working with a dance troupe makes you understand the relationship between your music and their movement and, in turn, gives you a chance to reflect on how your music is expressed by itself. Additionally, the talents and different perspectives that collaborators bring to the table is immense.

Our organization has primarily had other horn players as collaborators. Some of the individuals that we've had the pleasure to work with include: Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins, Bill Bernatis, Douglas Hull and Robert Watt. Most recently, Richard King joined the ensemble for two works as part of the Music in the Vineyards summer festival in Napa, CA. Each of these experiences has been completely unique and enriching. The group dynamic of a chamber music ensemble can be a delicate thing at times, so adding another person to the mix can be a challenge. However, we've been fortunate not to have any jerks work with us yet. (Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.)

In addition to horn players, we've worked with vocalists, pianists, tuba players, symphony orchestras, jazz bands, and wind ensembles as well as a couple dance companies. The most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open and be willing to embrace a new artistic viewpoint. Half the fun is enjoying the shared moment of mutual creativity. Even if you have no idea how the product is going to turn out.