Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Music Matters

© Andrea Canter

And in case we forget that music matters, there’s an annual reminder staged by the MacPhail Center for Music in the form of their Music Matters Luncheon fundraiser.

One of the nation’s largest community music schools, serving well over 8,000 students from infants to centenarians, MacPhail is also one of the Twin Cities’ oldest arts institutions, serving the community for 104 years. That’s a lot of piano lessons, chamber ensemble rehearsals, faculty and student recitals, jazz camps, music therapy sessions and master classes. And it’s all there because music matters—to our quality of life, to our intellectual and emotional development, to our relationships with others.

At the Music Matters Luncheon each year, we hear just how music matters to individual students, families, and communities. Today we heard from a student with significant disabilities for whom music offered both pleasure and normalization; we met an elderly woman who had been shut off from much of the world by illness, only to reconnect through the music of young children at a combined early childhood/adult care center. And through modern techno-wizardry, we watched and listened here in Minneapolis, in real time, to an 8-year-old pianist in a San Francisco studio as he played (with amazing speed and dexterity) on a disklavier, a piano that can remotely replicate the precise touch and sound as played thousands of miles away.

MacPhail takes a unique approach to fundraising – they invite us to lunch. A free lunch, thanks to corporate sponsors. We don’t buy a ticket. There’s no strings attached (except for those played so joyfully by MacPhail’s Suzuki violins and guitars). We’re entertained by a variety of MacPhail ensembles, which this year included the Dakota Combo jazz band directed by Adam Linz and the youth choir directed by J.D. Steele. The Suzuki ensembles greeted over 1000 in the lobby of the Convention Center, and a vibes ensemble bid us farewell. In between, we learn about the programs at MacPhail, hear personal stories from students, parents and teachers. And we heard a strong invitation to help support MacPhail’s programs, this year delivered with humor and personal tales from composer Libby Larsen. We receive pledge materials and donation envelopes. We can turn in a donation or mull it over. And we leave inspired to spend more time listening to music, maybe even playing some music ourselves.

There will be one—only one-- follow-up to further encourage donations. Next year, we’ll get a postcard to “save the date” for the 2012 Music Matters Luncheon. And next year, we’ll go, and most of us will donate. In sum, we’ll donate enough to support scholarships for about half of students who enroll at MacPhail.

Because music matters, and MacPhail matters to music in our community.

Upcoming at MacPhail: Spotlight Series Concert, April 29th (“Musical Folklore” in three segments, including Jacqueline Ultan, Adam Linz, JT Bates, Peter Ostroushko); Jazz Thursdays on May 12 with the Dakota Combo. See for listing of all recitals, concerts and summer music camps.

Photos: Young violinist in the Suzuki ensemble; Danny Hupp of the Dakota Combo; young guitar student; J.D. Steele leads the MacPhail Choir (all photos by Andrea Canter at the 2011 Music Matters Luncheon)