What are we doing?
My name's Richard Drehoff; I'm a senior conducting and music education major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I've served as marching band conductor for three seasons, I've guest conducted with the Symphony Band, and conducted the premiere performance for composer Ben Boecker's acclaimed musical "Spellbound."
I, along with 20 other musician/colleagues, have noticed that classical musicians tend to gloss over American music and only pay attention to the Europeans. So we've formed an ensemble to put on a concert to fill that gap.
When I say we're playing American music, I don't mean Sousa marches. We're going to perform a diverse set of chamber music (music for small groups; ours vary from 7 to 12 players per piece). We'll be playing Conlon Nancarrow's "Septet" (1940), Walter Piston's "Divertimento" (1946), Charles Ives's "Scherzo: Over the Pavements" (1913), Charles Griffes's "Three Tone Pictures" (1915), and Steve Reich's "Double Sextet" (2008). It's intense music, and we want to show people that it's just as important as its European counterpart.
The musicians are all volunteering their time and effort for the project. Combined we'll spend over 500 hours practicing and rehearsing this music to make a truly incredible concert. But it's expensive to purchase the sheet music for concert, especially one with recently-composed music! We need to raise at least $1,238 just to afford the materials for the concert without pay!
The concert will be free to the public, held on March 24, 2013 in the Kenan Music Building on UNC's campus. Our goal is to expose as many different people to American music as possible. If you live in the Chapel Hill area, we hope to see you there! And if not, we're planning to stream it live, meaning that you'll be able to watch it at home with the rest of the world too!
So what does the money cover?
$1,238 seems like an unusual number, so let me explain where that comes from. Most ensembles need sheet music to practice and perform, us included. Sheet music can be purchased or rented, depending on the company that provides it. In our case, two of the scores are rentals, which are significantly more expensive than sheet music we purchase.
Therefore, this $1,238 covers the cost of the sheet music and nothing else. It is literally the bare minimum with which we can work!
What can we do with more?
A lot! With extra money, we can:
- Hire a technology expert to manage our streaming, providing different angles of the ensemble during the concert and making sure the recording quality is at its utmost finest.
- Pay for concert advertisements in local publicity opportunities, which helps to draw in a huge audience!
- Pay our musicians for their efforts. (Not a lot, but enough to make them smile appreciatively!)
- Hire a professional photographer to make sure the occasion is preserved.
- Donate the extra funding to programs that support music education programs in our schools!
And of course, if we raise enough money, we can start to FUND OUR NEXT CONCERT!
How can you help?
Now, if you're willing to contribute just 10 dollars to our project, I'll write you a thank you card. And if that's not enough, we'll give you a picture of all of us as well; that way you can see exactly how many of the aspiring college musicians you've helped achieve this project.
If you contribute only $20 to our concert, we'll mail you the same as above and provide you the link to watch the performance live! That means you get the full concert experience (video and audio) from the comfort of your favorite computer screen; there won't be any annoying traffic to deal with and you're welcome to provide your own snacks and beverages to accompany the show!
And if that's not cool enough? Well, if you donate 40 dollars to the cause, I'll still write you a thank you note and get you a photograph, you'll still get to watch us on your computer or live, but we'll also list you in the concert program as a Benefactor of the American Music Ensemble, and we'll send you a copy of the program signed by all of the musicians involved!
How do I know I'll even like the music?
Well, since we haven't performed it, I can't give you a recording to listen to. However, here are some links to YouTube videos of other groups performing some of our repertoire:
Want to hear more? You'll have to come to the concert!
If you have any questions about the project...
...please feel free to send me an e-mail at RichardDrehoff@unc.edu. Keep listening, everybody!
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk that we have is quite simply that people don't come to the concert. Maybe one of our players could injure themselves and we'd have to find someone else to help out? That shouldn't be a big problem with a huge supply of excellent student musicians at UNC.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
All of our members are students who are currently enrolled or who have recently graduated (within the last 3 years) from the University of North Carolina. The majority of students are pursing undergraduate degrees with music majors. Several are involved with music fraternities and sororities, and all have taken lessons with distinguished professors here and around the world.
How are you and the ensemble members specifically affiliated with American music (as opposed to European classical music)?
Many of the ensemble members and I are brothers in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a national fraternity which promotes the advancement of music in America. Others of us are dedicated to performing American music on recitals and concerts as often as possible.
Regardless of our direct affiliation, I think we all agree that American classical music fills a very different void than that of European repertoire; a fact that is often ignored.
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