Last night I had the great fortune to be present for the Inner Chamber performance of Schubert's Octet here in Stratford at Factory 163. There was so much to recommend about the experience, starting of course with the genius and beauty of Schubert. The performers were all top-notch musicians who all happen to live locally. Artistic Director and violinist Andrew Chung's vision for this series of concerts includes a meal for the audience before the concert begins, which provides a lovely "gateway" into the musical portion of the event, providing an opportunity for a tangible feeling of community, anticipation and celebration.
For me, with my passion for interesting spaces, the element that contributed a heightened "magic" to the overall experience was the venue itself. Factory 163 is as the name suggests a reclaimed building, originally used as a furniture factory and a few years ago transformed to now be home to many creative and artistic pursuits. The performance space is not fixed, which allows every event the possibility of setting up in a way that uniquely suits the experience.
Last night's performance was set up "in the round", with audience seating on all four sides of the performers who were seated in a circle with their backs to the audience. At intermission the performers changed seats so that the audience had a different perspective for the last three movements of the piece. The intimacy that was created through the use of the space contributed to a great sense of connection between the musicians and the listeners. As well, I found myself pondering the juxtaposition of the somewhat rough and functional structure and its original usage with the heightened beauty of the music that was being presented. Somehow this juxtaposition served to heighten the musical experience even further. I think of the people who worked in that space building furniture years ago and imagine that they would not likely have fathomed that Schubert would be filling the space decades later. Yet somehow their energy was with us here and now.
The fact that last night's performance was sold out and was indeed the largest audience yet for an Inner Chamber concert was great cause to celebrate, and yet the feeling of connection and community was evident among the audience members, and was no doubt felt as well by the performers. That reciprocal flow of energy between audience and performers is what it's all about, if you ask me.
I am now preparing to host my own version of "music in an intimate space" with my "4 @4" series of house concerts. When I purchased the home I currently live in, it was partly because it offers a space in which concerts are possible. I will be sharing the music that I recently recorded for my Volume 3 CD of Edvard Grieg's music, and my listeners will hopefully enjoy the "up close and personal" aspect with glass in hand. Every Sunday afternoon in March at 4pm at my home. Please contact me for info re cost and location and to reserve your seat.
(contact email is sandra at sandra mogensen dot com...although of course you wouldn't type it that way, right? You can also reach me through https://www.facebook.com/mogenpianist or https://twitter.com/sandramogensen )