Several SMR members attended last week’s annual meeting of the Society for American Music in New Orleans, LA, with two members presenting papers: Nee Chucherdwatanasak gave a talk entitled, “The Future is Local: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Community Engagement,” and Austin Stewart gave a talk entitled, “Community Music and Artistic Citizenship in Stanley Wood’s Colorado-Themed Operetta Brittle Silver (1882)” (abstracts below). Congratulations, Nee and Austin!
Besides the intellectual activities, the group also took great pleasure in NOLA’s warm sunshine, lively music, and—of course—iconic cuisine…gumbo, crawfish etoufee, jambalaya, beignets…ahh…yum!
Nee Chucherdwatanasak, “The Future is Local: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Community Engagement”
Over the past few decades, a number of American orchestras have placed community outreach front and center in their missions. This paper examines the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its community engagement programs, combining an archival approach with an ethnographic study. By deliberately forging diversified musical activities for different audiences in various local spaces, community engagement has become a significant strategy for orchestras to highlight diversity and relevance to contemporary, diverse American audiences. The community-centric approach in turn allows orchestras to receive extra funding crucial for non-profit art organizations at a time when financial challenges have become the norm
Austin Stewart, “Community Music and Artistic Citizenship in Stanley Wood’s Colorado-Themed Operetta Brittle Silver (1882)”
Brittle Silver could well be the first operetta written and performed by amateur musicians living in Denver, Colorado. It tells the story of a poor miner who falls in love with the daughter of a disreputable mine owner, though his poverty hinders their blossoming relationship. Their eventual union is made possible by a benevolent Ute tribal leader who exercises his sovereignty to enrich the underdog miner. This paper examines how these amateur operatics constructed a mining community onstage for the pleasure of their observers, articulated a sense of place and identity, celebrated Colorado, and engaged ethics and artistic citizenship.