This Friday we’re putting on the final concert of our Spring season, and it’s a particularly complex one to put together. Most of the work I’ll be doing this week (and writing about here) will be focused on making that event happen. In fact “make the events happen” is an apt four-word summary of my job description. Above is a picture of the exterior of the BAM/PFA building – a brutalist structure that I can honestly say I enjoy entering every day. The statue in the front is by Alexander Calder. And here’s our central atrium gallery, the main location of our performance series, as viewed from the lobby. I’ve gotten to know the geometry and proportions of it very well over the past few years. No matter one’s opinion on the architectural style (I’m partial to it myself), there is no denying that the building has phenomenal and idiosyncratic acoustic qualities. Just when I think I know the resonances of the space pretty well, it will surprise me.
Last year I asked several of our music/sound performers to write blog posts about their experiences with the gallery and its acoustics. Their thoughts are collected here. The event this coming Friday is one I’ve been looking forward to, and will be a great one to close out the season. It’s a tricky one, with lots of moving parts that have been coming together for months. Rather than prattle on about every detail, I’ll mention that there are still a couple of issues to be worked out. Flurries of phone calls and emails are getting us closer to having a set of risers for the 70 choir members to stand on during the show, but we don’t have a solution quite yet. It was something nobody thought about till the last minute, and it may be a bit of a nail-biter. I’m confident it will work out in the end, though.
Beyond that, I’m trying to get approval to show a video in the gallery. One of the most exciting aspects of this concert is the presence of the original musical instruments hand-built by the composer and his partner. The instruments are arriving tomorrow and will be in the gallery where they can be viewed by museum patrons – our hope is to place a monitor right next to the instruments and run a short documentary about their construction. This is one of the unique things that a museum can do, but a traditional concert venue cannot. With a little luck, I’ll have that resolved in the morning. Our talented in-house editor and designer created a beautiful printed program for the concert, which I proofed this afternoon. They had their work cut out for them, since we have longer program notes than usual, plus many performers to mention by name. As always, they rose to the occasion.
Earlier in the day, I started working out what our schedule for the Spring of 2013 might look like. There are still many details to work out (logistical, budgetary, etc.), and many people to bring into the conversation, but I have a starting point. 90% of our Friday night programming is done by folks from outside the museum, whom we invite to curate a certain number of events. In the Spring of 2013, however, I’ll be programming a few nights myself, all of which are meant to be reflections or commentary on an exhibition that we’ll have showing at that time.
This morning, I sent out a couple of emails, following up with people I had approached about performing. The only other item on my agenda today was a weekly meeting of some of the museum curatorial and education staff. We get together for an hour once a week to discuss the ever-changing gallery schedule, special events, long-range or late-breaking developments in exhibition plans, and a wide range of other issues. I make it sound dry, but it’s usually quite entertaining. It helps to work with people who have a similarly ironic bent to their humor. I’ll close it off there for today. Tomorrow morning, the American gamelan instruments arrive, and I’m thrilled to have them in the space.