TwtrSymphony, if you may recall, is an online project created by composer Chip Michael and inspired greatly by many thoughtful musicians connected by the strong musician community on Twitter (Some of these musicians are people you may know from their exposure on The Glass). When I interviewed Chip previously, the project was just being born, and they were just getting the tracks recorded for the first movement of Chip’s work titled Birds of a Feather. They have now decided to progress further into bigger things and make a full CD, and in order to do so, a campaign being funded by the public through the great Kickstarter has been set up. You can be a part of this campaign and donate to the fund on here or on the link at the bottom.
Chip had a few minutes to spare to talk about the campaign.
CM: Can you please tell us about the Kickstarter campaign for the Twtrsymphony CD?
Chip: TwtrSymphony wants to elevate the awareness of new orchestral music. We launched a Kickstarter to help raise funds for a new CD – a CD of new music by composers from all over the world. The point of the CD isn’t specifically to sell the music. Instead, we plan to give this CD to music directors and conductors of orchestras around the world to introduce these new composers and pieces. We hope this will encourage orchestras to consider more new music in their programming.
Before we finalize the CD, we will release each track to the public for digital downloads, we will post and publicize music videos, and we will leverage social media to build a following for the new music. So, when orchestras consider these new pieces, they won’t be untried, unknown pieces – but actually music that brings a fan base, a following to the concert hall with them. This means the music will live outside the concert hall raising awareness of new orchestral music outside the traditional format, but also help bring people into the concert hall as orchestras program these new works.
CM: Is this album going to prominently feature your music, or are you also looking for music from other composers or some composer/musicians?
Chip: The new CD is going to be mostly filled with the pieces of other composers. We held a call for scores receiving over 100 scores from composers all around the world. It’s amazing how many composers, how many countries/cultures and how many different styles of music are represented. Orchestral music is extremely diverse and no reason it couldn’t be as popular and other forms of contemporary music.
As a composer myself, I do intend to have my works represented, but the point of TwtrSymphony isn’t to be simply a showcase for my music. It is to give opportunity to other composers to be heard, to get their works recorded and start building a fan base.
Both Marin Alsop and Michael Tilson-Thomas have commented recently, it is not enough for composers to write new music. They need to develop a fan base. TwtrSymphony wants to help do that. We want to get the music of numerous composers out to the public and really show the world what’s possible with new orchestral music.
CM: The purpose for this fundraiser is to not only fund the recording and the CD, it’s also to give some rightful compensation to the musicians, correct?
Chip: Recording music the way we do takes time. Last year we recorded five tracks. If we want the CD to be viable it needs to have 20+ tracks of music. That’s a lot more music and therefore a lot more time for both the musicians and the engineers.
Up to this point everyone on the project has worked for free, dedicating their time because they believe in the project. However, we need to be sensitive to the fact that demanding more time will impact the time musicians and engineers have to earn money with the various paid projects they have going. It’s not fair to ask them to suffer, to take a financial hit, just to get the music out.
CM: What kind of feedback are you getting from the musicians about twtrsymphony so far, and have they also been giving you any suggestions for this recording and any others along the way?
Chip: The musicians and engineers are integral to the project and far more involved in our direction than the musicians of a traditional orchestra. Suggestions come in all the time about ways to improve the process, ideas on how to better leverage social media, or thoughts on directions TwtrSymphony could go. This isn’t my orchestra, but a true collaboration of all the people involved.
Several months ago we had a series of technical ‘talks’ on Twitter about recording yourself as a musician. Our engineers dedicated their time to answer a flurry of questions and really get involved in discussions about different ways to get the best results for each instrument.
Probably the biggest portion of engagement is the ever increasing number of tweets, re-tweets, mentions, posts, likes, and shares TwtrSymphony gets from the musicians. Unlike any other orchestra I know, our musicians are really our voice – not just in making the music, but at spreading the word. They are not relegated to just playing what’s on their music stands, but are involved in every aspect of the ‘marketing’ of what we do. They are as (if not more) passionate about TwtrSymphony as I am. Moreover, they are passionate about music in general.
If you look for the Twitter list of all the TwtrSymphony musicians and check the feed you will see they are a fascinating gathering of people from many cultures and backgrounds. It’s fascinating to read all the different topics they discuss. Yes, they talk about TwtrSymphony, but they tweet about dozens of other topics as well. They are a very diverse group, passionate about very thing they do. That passion translates to their music and their involvement with TwtrSymphony.
The last thing I would like to bring up is the reality that is facing classical music in the modern age. The audiences that come to the concert hall are steadily aging. The competition for the listeners ears is greater than it has ever been. Fans have multiple delivery channels for getting the music they desire. We in the classical world need to explore new opportunities to reach out and engage our audience. Just because a fan has never attended a live concert it does not mean they are not interested in orchestral music. The strong sales for film and video game scores prove this. Those of us composing for the orchestra should take advantage of this. Getting recordings into the hands of the fans is a great step towards future concert sales. Gaining a solid fan-base is a great way of grabbing the attention of the Music Directors.
The social media world is providing opportunity. That opportunity combined with the passion of our musicians is really the reason this project continues moving forward – striving to bring new music to a new audience in a new way.