Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ecstatic or something like it in KC…at the Kauffman maybe?

I’m listening, for I cannot watch as the distance and location is currently beyond my less-than-ecstatic resources, to the podcasts on WQXR of the performances presented at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York City at the Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman (with one f) Center. It’s the first year for the festival and based upon the music and the ticket sales thus far, I believe we’re seeing the birth of a new musical fringe fest a la Edinburgh…a festival name now in our artistic lexicon.

I enjoy classical music and too many other named genres. Music is fuel to me and yes I’ll listen to anything without apprehension.

The Ecstatic Music Festival began on January 17th. I first learned of it in the NY Times on January 18th reading this piece. WQXR is my classical stream of choice and they’ve partnered with the fest to broadcast live podcasts and archive performances…here.

The mix, the community, the collisions and fusion (over-used, sorry) of music appears to also be a gathering of younger artists and listeners, a hopeful, joyful celebration of sound without pedigree concerns. The festival runs, in 14 performances, until March 28. Much more sound to come this year and I sense for a few more.

Cool to listen to this event from a distance and yet the music is here in Kansas City. I caught a delicious taste at the Living Room this past Thursday evening, listening to Mr. Marco’s V7. Without creating a lengthy list here, I’ll let you dream with me a bit or rather confidently imagine such a festival here…at the Kauffman or another such venue in town, out of the bar and into the concert hall, with a multi-generational audience purchasing tickets and enjoying. Where conservatory trained meet street-practiced, bar-hoofers, jazz-labeled shed their venue cocoons and fly in the same meadow.

Without forcing a scene celebration, our artists deserve to mix with musicians and composers from other places. The classical scene here, supported by the over-50 crowd, is more museum than scene. Artists are doing their bit to stretch and create within and without the museum. What’s missing is the audience, and yes that’s a challenge and a worry in these lean fiscal times.

Musicologists and those in the know will say this Ecstatic thing has been done before and they’d be right. And perhaps this Ecstatic thing will become just another corporate-riddled Sundance. But for the time, right now, this feels quite fresh and I believe the Ecstatic adjective will become like its established Fringe older sister.

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