With the upcoming release of my first book, The Creation of the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra: The Performer's Field Guide to Music Festival Foundation, I thought it would be appropriate to provide a sneak-peak. Here is an excerpt from the new book regarding its contents.
In July 2011, I began to lay the foundation of the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra (TFO) in Branson, Missouri, and we completed our fourth successful concert season in June 2015. The TFO is a two-week classical music festival in Branson, Missouri that thrives on experimentation—both programmatically and institutionally—and community building through music. I wanted to create something that is satisfying for musicians and accessible to modern audiences. This is its mission:
The Taneycomo Festival Orchestra is a nonprofit organization that provides a free two-week concert series of classical music in Branson, Missouri. We seek to break the 19th century tradition that attending a symphony concert is a formal and elitist event by providing an accessible and casual series of concerts and educational programs while continuing to preserve these great works of art in our destination city. Come as you are and enjoy the beautiful music!
I embarked on this adventure with little administrative experience. However, I had a strong background in clarinet performance and music composition, a great network of friends and colleagues, and determination to bring my dream to fruition. In laying the TFO’s foundation, I completed almost every administrative task on my own. I filed all of the legal documents (Articles of Incorporation, Employee Identification Number, and 501(c)(3)) successfully and without any legal aid. In the first year, I also recruited thirty-five musicians to perform in the orchestra and programmed eight concerts (two orchestral, six chamber) for the two-week series. In 2015, we had one hundred musicians and gave fourteen concerts (four orchestral, nine chamber, one big band) over the course of our two-week series. Our programming is diverse and includes standard repertoire, contemporary repertoire, commissioned repertoire, children’s programming, and jazz. Our venues are eclectic and include schools, hotels, cafés, bars, shops, churches, and homes. We save a lot of money while simultaneously engaging the community by placing each of our traveling musicians with host families and providing the orchestra with nightly dinner parties at various community members’ homes. The Festival continues to grow and is immersed deeper into the community each year. After our fourth season, community members have remarked that the TFO is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
I started the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra to make classical music more accessible, enjoyable, and relevant to a modern, rural community. The events created under these circumstances are often high-quality musical experiences that are fun for audiences. I also aspired to separate music festival creation from traditional institutional structure. If a performer takes a similar path and wishes to create such an organization, he or she will have little to no familiarity with the traditional or nontraditional institutional structures. My unique perspective offers a multidisciplinary approach to music festival foundation.
This book began as the treatise for my doctoral degree at Florida State University. It charts my experiences in creating a music festival in my hometown after an inspiring experience at a friend’s music festival. In the year that I spent creating the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra, everything I learned was through trial and error. No real guidelines to creating a music festival existed. That being said, this book is by no means a definitive guide to music festival foundation. It is a combination of advice, narratives, and suggestions for further reading and exploration.