What is the Memphis Repertory Orchestra?
When you think of Memphis, TN, you most likely think of its profound musical influence--specifically in soul and blues. Memphis is home to some of the world's premiere music history sites: Stax, Sun Studios, Beale Street, Graceland, Ardent Studios, the list goes on and on. In 2011, The Memphis Repertory Orchestra (MRO) began working on adding its name to that legendary list.
Two years ago, when the MRO formed under the leadership of William Langley, they wanted to put Memphis on the music map, again, but this time by distinguishing the city as a great new epicenter for classical music. While the city already plays host to a fantastic Symphony, which performs in a state-of-the-art concert hall, the MRO strives to reach an even broader audience by getting the younger generation involved in the process, especially students.
The orchestra is comprised of local undergraduate and high school students alongside area amateur and professional musicians, all working on a volunteer basis. Founded by Mr. Langley, then a freshman college music student, with the support of colleagues, the intent of the orchestra was to offer student musicians an opportunity to perform and rehearse the way a professional orchestra does - with only a few intense rehearsals and then a concert.
Langley's philanthropy also extends into the orchestra's business model. The orchestra has been performing regularly for the community in the famous Cooper/Young district of Memphis, but free-of charge.
From this philanthropic vision, what has evolved is an experience benefitting not only the musicians, but also the community-at-large. Local entrepreneur and musician, Richard Sims, said of the MRO concert series, "nothing in Memphis unites the sophistication, skill, and repertoire of the old guard with the enthusiasm of the new quite like William Langley and the MRO." As an audience member, what you are experiencing is music at its purest form - music for music's sake.
As musicians, the students gain "real world" experience in the orchestral setting while augmenting their college or high school curricula. Founding concertmaster, Jordan Stephens, has called the experience "ultimately rewarding" because, as he says, "we perform to learn, because in reality, we love what we do and want to share that with the world." In exchange for their passion, the musicians are receiving a professional experience, performing multiple times a year, and competing at professional levels in professional settings.
What about our community?
The MRO offers something unique in philanthropic circles: a combining of education, arts, and culture. As a result, the Memphis community is thanked for its support with free admission. In addition, the MRO wants to be at the forefront of rejuvenating enthusiasm for Memphis--a historical beacon in music. The MRO's approach to social engagement is through arts and culture, bringing together all pockets of the city under one auspice: the great masterworks.
Donor and supporter, Thomas Lawless has likened his MRO experiences with what "Venice must feel like. There is something undeniably authentic about the atmosphere where they perform [First Congo--a beautiful cathedral style hall] and their skill. I feel like I'm walking through Medici streets afterwords; the violins still echoing. The experience is wonderful." Indeed, the MRO is opening its arms to the global culture with internet broadcasts of performances as well as YouTube videos.
In June of 2012, the MRO decided to take it a step further, giving the musicians another opportunity to learn and experience the process of recording in a professional recording studio. The MRO musicians met for 5 rehearsals and spent 2 intense evenings of recording, resulting in a completed symphony AND violin concerto. The hard work is done, now the next step in helping us complete this ambitious project is in your hands.
But how does this cd play into our mission and goals as an orchestra? Remember that part about putting Memphis on the classical music map? With this professionally produced cd, we will be taking the music of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Memphis beyond the city and county lines in a format never achieved by any other local orchestral group. In order to keep our music readily accessible, we are hoping to offer the cd at little to no charge. In raising the $4000, we will be able to completely fund the production and distribution of the cd, leaving little to no cost to pass along to the consumer.
There is very little time, so please help us in sharing this project with your friends, family, neighbors, and anyone you think may be interested in contributing. As our way of saying 'Thank You,' we have put together a collection of rewards aimed at each donation amount.
Keep in mind that even if the project is funded, we can still receive additional contributions which will become part of our operating budget, allowing us to continue to provide our concerts in our new location, rent better parts, and bring in more in-demand-soloists from around the country.
We can't say thank you enough for all of the support we have already received in the past two years, and can't wait to add you to that list!!
Risks and challenges
One of the main risks we face in getting the cd ready for our March 2nd release is that of manufacturing delays. We are mitigating that risk by utilizing all local post production and manufacturing services. Keeping the whole process this close to home will allow us to quickly resolve any potential issues with meeting this deadline - which means getting you this music as soon as possible! The result: 100% Memphis music to spread across the globe!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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