Taneycomo Festival Orchestra Tries to Break from Traditional Festival Approach
With spring weather finally setting in and the year beginning to wrap up at some schools, many musicians are looking forward to this year’s various summer festivals. Many of these events provide forums for musicians to collaborate and produce music together, some calling for high profile concerts in elaborate halls constructed just for the festival. Major festivals attract A-list soloists who present masterclasses and give recitals that come with a hefty ticket price.
Unfortunately, not everyone finds a classical music festival enticing. The prospect of donning formal attire in sweltering heat and paying high prices for admission can be a turn off for some who are unfamiliar with the genre. A new festival in Branson, Missouri, however, wants “break the 19th century traditional that attending a symphony concert is a formal and elitist event by providing an accessible and casual concert series while continuing to preserve these great works of art.” This is the mission of the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra, an organization founded by college music students to give free public concerts in the Ozark Mountains.
The festival’s founder and artistic director, Larkin Sanders, is a 25-year-old master’s student in clarinet performance at Michigan State University. Sanders said the inspiration for the festival was a waning interest in classical music across the country, and a desire to reinvigorate public interest at the local level:
Classical music is suffering all over the country,” Sanders said. “Nobody wants to dress up in a suit and go listen to music anymore. … I think festival orchestras are what’s going to keep classical music alive.
The festival’s first season, featuring both chamber music and orchestral concerts, will run from June 17-30. Applicants will receive lodging through the generosity of host families and will receive travel grants in some cases.
This is a great example of the innovation and entrepreneurship that’s necessary to keep classical music relevant in today’s culture. Rather than merely accept that classic music be reserved for concert halls and those who can afford high ticket prices, Sanders the other students who are serving as the backbone of the Taneycomo Festival are trying to create a new standard. This kind of concert, at the local level and fueled by residents as well as students, can create a feeling of community, in addition to brining in tourism from surrounding areas. The Taneycomo Festival is still accepting application for musicians, and is already looking forward to next year. We wish them the best of luck in their visionary efforts!