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Mozart. The Sound of Music. The Doppler Effect. Music and sound are inseparable from the city of Salzburg, Austria, the hometown of David Danzmayr, Music Director for ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, who grew up with a special relationship with sound and the emotional response it provokes. In utero, Danzmayr began kicking so forcefully while his mother [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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Mozart. The Sound of Music. The Doppler Effect. Music and sound are inseparable from the city of Salzburg, Austria, the hometown of David Danzmayr, Music Director for ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, who grew up with a special relationship with sound and the emotional response it provokes.

In utero, Danzmayr began kicking so forcefully while his mother was at concerts she would need to leave. Although unsure of exactly what rebellious message he was trying to communicate at the time, Danzmayr admits he still gets bothered by musicians who aren’t giving their all to a performance.

“Sometimes you go to a concert and you feel they are just doing a gig—just doing a show,” he said. “That’s something that either leaves me cold or actually makes me mad.”

Lively and conversational, Danzmayr, who began his third season with the orchestra with its opening concert in October, sips a ginger ale while he tells me about his musical journey from a three-year-old watching the conductor at concerts to a seven-year-old who wanted to be a professional soccer player to a budding pianist who knew he wanted to be in front of the music stands rather than behind one.

“I think it was the interaction with people,” Danzmayr said. “If I were to intellectualize it, I would say it must be some combination of making music, being in motion, dealing with people—not being alone on stage, directing people, which are all things I like about my job.”

Chamber music seems to be a natural fit for the congenial Danzmayr. Sometimes called, “the music of friends,” chamber music is composed for small, selective ensembles that historically, might have fit in a room or parlor. The intimate nature of chamber music creates a different and more personal musical experience for musicians and audience alike.

“There is an attitude and an element of playfulness and of love for the thing that they are doing there. You cannot just buy that. You cannot just create that. It’s just there,” he explained. “[Promusica]’s a very special group in that way and I think that translates to the audience experience very much. You see people on stage doing something they clearly love to do.”

Home to both a symphony and chamber orchestra, Columbus is extraordinary in its musical diversity. However ProMusica is not a scaled-down version of a symphony orchestra, and it embraces its unique identity.

“I don’t think there are really musical styles. I mean, the angry expression of Beethoven is the same angry expression of a heavy metal band. I don’t see a difference.”

“This word kind of sticks out a lot—which is the word boutique,” said Janet Chen, ProMusica’s Executive Director. “I think there’s an elegance and there’s a refinement. There’s something very special about the organization that can speak to many.”

Well-traveled and cosmopolitan, as most conductors are, Danzmayr sees the capital city as everything a large city should be.

“Columbus is a great place and a very cool place. It’s a very kind of young and vibrant city because you have a big university here…Columbus is in some ways for me, coming from the outside, much bigger than some people make it sound,” he said, dismissing some of the modesty that tends to infuse a Midwestern city surrounded by farmland.

“I don’t see that at all. I think Columbus has a lot to offer. There is a vibrant arts scene. There is a vibrant restaurant scene, great bars…good hotels. Everything you’d expect to see naturally.”

While an accomplished classical musician, Danzmayr immerses himself in all forms of music.

“I think I’m in an extremely lucky generation…when I was 15 or so it was like prime time for Nirvana, and Metallica had just come out with The Black Album and Rage Against the Machine was big… which obviously shaped my music tastes,” said Danzmayr, who believes firmly in the coexistence and purpose of all types of music.

“I don’t think there are really musical styles. I mean, the angry expression of Beethoven is the same angry expression of a heavy metal band. I don’t see a difference.”

With that philosophy in mind, ProMusica is striving to further its relevance in the community with holding free outdoor concerts, sponsoring string lessons in schools, and breaking down intimidation of the classical musical scene.

“There are no barriers to going to a classical concert,” said Danzmayr, who laughs about once attending a concert in Salzburg in a T-shirt when he couldn’t find his suit. “But there are a lot of perceived barriers nowadays—you should be dressed nicely. You should know something about the music. You should behave very formally. I don’t care about these things to be honest.”

Danzmayr makes himself available to talk with guests after each performance and all questions, from the person who wants a deeper understanding of the music to the guest who wants to know where the concertmaster buys her shoes, are welcome as part of an enjoyable evening with ProMusica.

“We need to really communicate to people you can just come as you are.”

Danzmayr will condust Brahms Symphony No. 4 November 14-15 at the Southern Theatre. For more, visit promusicacolumbus.org.

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Music industry designates Blackout Tuesday as time of pause

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To honor the memory of George Floyd and fix the injustices surrounding his death, the music industry has designated Tuesday as a time of pause to collaborate on ways to better support the black community.

Businesses and organizations within the music industry have been asked to pause regular work to reflect on how they can better serve the black community, according to a report from Variety. In general, businesses and organizations across the board have been asked to use Tuesday as a way to focus on the effort.

The message that circulated around social media quickly on Monday stated that “Blackout Tuesday” is being used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

The movement has been gaining momentum under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Major labels such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group announced their alignment with the “Blackout Tuesday” cause. 

Companies have also announced practices such as pausing social media activity throughout the whole day.

Spotify and ViacomCBS have already announced an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence for Tuesday. The time reflects how long the Minnesota police officer dug his knee into the kneck of Floyd.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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