February is also budget time at SFGC, which means many hours of planning, reflection, questioning…
It’s the shortest month of the year, but somehow it feels like the longest. This seems to be a widely shared feeling, and maybe it’s not just about the weather, which, until the forecast for SNOW(?!) this week, has been rather mild. The jazz violinist Regina Carter wrote a tune a few years ago, called “Forever February,” to try to capture that late winter restlessness so many of us feel.
Carter will be performing as soloist with the Oakland East Bay Symphony this Friday in the premiere of a concerto by composer Billy Childs. Written in a classical idiom, the work also involves improvisation on the part of the soloist and includes many jazz inflections. However, according to a recent feature in SF Classical Voice, Carter feels stretched by the piece and by having one foot in both the classical and jazz worlds at the same time.
That feeling of a foot in both worlds can be tricky. I feel it every time we load up the truck and drive back to the Bay Area from our Lake County retreat among the vines. But I also feel it strongly for SFGC, as we continue to grapple and balance the duality of our mission and brand.
We are both an exceptional music education program and a professional quality performing ensemble. How do we communicate what we do, and what we are capable of doing, to the outside world? How can we become more artistically relevant, and taken more seriously, while continuing to provide that safe space for learning and personal development that is so important for our young singers? February is also budget time at SFGC, which means many hours of planning, reflection, questioning, and some plain old wishful thinking as we look at our prospects for the year ahead.
Regina Carter and her husband were in the audience for SFGC’s performance in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in the spring of 2009. They were amazed by the girls’ technical virtuosity and maturity as performers. While this isn’t surprising for those of us “inside” the organization, it’s almost always a revelation for other professional musicians when they encounter the girls for the first time.
The Lincoln Center concert was one of the musical highlights of my life, and I believe it will remain so for all of the girls who sang that night, and for many in the audience. It signaled our firm footed arrival in both the worlds of arts education and professional performance. But it’s also a warm and wonderful memory that shines bright through this February funk, as we struggle to visualize and realize plans for the next year and the years ahead. Surely spring is just around the corner…
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