MINUTES of the MEETING
CONSORTIUM OF VERMONT COMPOSERS
January 5, 1997
The meeting was called to order at 2:30 pm on January 5, 1997 at the home of Donald Stewart in Tunbridge, Vermont. Zeke Hecker acted as moderator. In attendance were: Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, David Fuqua, David Gunn, Zeke Hecker, Peggy Madden, and Don Stewart. Planning but unable to attend was Bill Harris, who provided an email message with his concerns..
Treasurer's Report and Non-Profit Status
Don Stewart reported on the state of the treasury, which stands at $672.61 at the close of 1996. Membership for 1997 is now due, and the membership amount would continue at $25. Although the amount in the treasury is not high, Don was pleased that all bills for the 1996 FourScore Bi-Regional Festival were paid, and all reimbursements were made to Consortium members who had incurred Consortium expenses in 1996.
The non-profit status of the Consortium has not yet been confirmed. Formal filing with the IRS is waiting for the accumulation of documents and history to meet the more stringent requirments of 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. Don hopes to have more information at the next meeting.
Evaluation of FourScore Festival
Six areas of the festival were considered.
- Musical quality
This question continued to be a difficult one. Zeke Hecker reminded everyone of the performances, and complimented most. Although the majority at the meeting were satisfied that the performances had technical merit, David Fuqua felt some of the playing was somewhat lifeless. Don agreed that the performances were largely better and more consistent than previous events. David Gunn felt that performances and the compositions themselves were too closely linked to separate, and he was unhappy with the quality of the music. Dennis agreed, and was also dissatisfied in the changes made in his pieces. Don suggested more communication between performers and composers.
Don said that we "should accept the fact of forever long programs," but that we should "exercise more control". Zeke noted there were fewer submissions than expected, and Dennis pointed out that the usual practice of calling for scores and filling in with 'backup' composers didn't work this time. Zeke felt more attention should be given to the programming by the composers. David Fuqua thought a less formal concert space might be wiser, and Zeke insisted that whatever the music, we should "make sure the setting is appropriate". Dennis expressed dissatisfaction with the range of music presented, hoping for more music 'on the edge'. Extensive discussion followed about programming, and the need to continue the Consortium's notion of inclusiveness.
Publicity was felt to be satisfactory in general, but more radio was hoped for. Don wryly commented that there should be "no free samples". The follow-up review by Jim Lowe in the Times-Argus was appreciated.
Attendance was spotty, and weakest in Manchester and Burlington. There were many anecdotes, but no solutions were offered. A consensus was reached that consistency of presentation and ongoing visibility were most important, and that the sponsoring sites, especially Bethany Church in Montpelier, should give that more attention.
- House Management
This was also an area needing help. Where there were established organizations in southern Vermont, house management was successful. In Montpelier, the door was taken care of by Dennis; in Burlington, by Larry Read. Everyone felt it was absurd to have to hire a security guard at UVM while not being able to have someone at the door for tickets and to greet audience members.
- Implications for Future Events
Dennis expressed his lack of enthusiasm for events similar to the recent festival. David Fuqua suggested concerts of electronic music would be portable. Don thought "multi-function concerts" would be valuable, such as a broad, interesting, short electronic segment; a similarly short and interesting vocal segment; and an instrumental part. Zeke talked about the atmosphere of various venues, and Don reiterated that "regularity of venue" was important. David Gunn felt audience participation would have been helpful. David Fuqua suggested Larry Polansky might give us pointers in getting some additional 'edge' music. Don hoped we could hold segments to under 30 minutes in the future, as everyone felt that the 3-hour Burlington concert was excessive. No conclusions were reached, and the discussion would be continued at the next meeting.
Officers and Functions
The group agreed to thank Larry Read heartily for guiding the Consortium through yet another festival, and providing leadership when it was most needed.
A new approach was suggested by Bill Harris in his email, that two people direct the Consortium because of the north-to-south distance and coordination problem. Bill suggested Lisa Jablow for the north and Zeke Hecker for the south; the group agreed. Lisa is out-of-state and will be asked when she returns; Zeke accepted the job as southern director, and interim director of the Consortium until the next meeting, should Lisa decline.
Officers were elected by acclamation, as follows:
- Zeke Hecker, Southern Vermont Director and Interim President, who reports he "has no expertise or connections".
- Don Stewart, Treasurer, who "will keep my eyes open".
- David Fuqua, Newsletter Editor and Stealth Vermont Composer.
- Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Secretary by default because nobody actually mentioned the job.
- David Gunn, Keeper of the Membership Rolls, who prefers to be called The List Floobner.
After a hiatus of several months, the newsletter has an editor in David Fuqua, who will bring his experience in publishing to the job. He will use the existing format as a starting point, hoping to have the first issue in February. Dennis will get him source materials, and write a summary article about the festival events; David will contribute a piece about the humorous concert that included Vermont composers; and more information on the Kalvos & Damian New Music Bazaar will be offered.
Pursuit of New Funding
Funding continues to stymie the Consortium board, which has little experience in the area. Bill Harris had been successful with the Vermont Community Foundation for one year, but we were declined the next. Bill's comments noted that now that we are paying performers, we cannot return to free performances, and it will mean serious fundraising. There was an exhaustive discussion that covered private companies (Dennis will develop a list), public/private matching funds, local organizations, "fair compensation" requirements of the NEA, etc. David Fuqua will explore grantwriting information to identify funding sources. Don noted that Tom Philion had been helpful in the past, and Philion had been thanked for permitting the VSO to act as our funding conduit for the VCF funds.
Proposals for the Future and General Direction
Don said that old and new members should be appealed to, and that individual letters to members needed to be made up. He suggested we should get together as soon as possible, and reiterated that dues must stay at $25.
Zeke brought up our current level of inclusiveness. Don thought inclusiveness had been successful, and David Gunn though a little snootiness was in order to keep folks from leaving. Dennis thought our inclusiveness had not been proactive enough.
David Gunn said festivals were good, but we needed more small concerts. A discussion followed that agreed that smaller, community-based events were important, but also needed sponsors. An informal list was drawn up of performers who had Vermont composers' music in their current repertoire: the Kevra/Huling duo and the Jablow/Ennis pair, both groups having solid short concerts that they could do in more places, so long as they were helped with connections, funds, etc.; the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary by performing excerpts from the many commissions they had made over the years, and had recorded Vermont music; Michael Arnowitt, one of the longtime performers of Vermont music, and the first to record music by Consortium members; the Constitution Brass Quartet, the Bella Rosa String Quartet, Il Gruppo Nuke Jitters, etc. Don again noted that multipart concerts could create "effective performances". Zeke thought Consortium 'samplers' would make good events.
Sponsorship by the Consortium was discussed. Dennis felt that the Consortium could gain visibility and help performers by sponsoring their concerts. Don asked Dennis to create an idea sheet of 23 items on what constitutes sponsorship; Dennis agreed to the assignment.
Conferences were discussed, including ones with narrow focus, an hour of music, open rehearsals, and encouraging more composer/performer dialog, as well as food. David Gunn thought we should stick to music, because there was no audience for conferences. Dennis agreed that it didn't give the Consortium much visibility. Don called the idea "a forced rehearsal", suggesting it might work. Peggy though we might try it. Zeke pushed again for the one-event sampler idea. Dennis wanted more 'emceeing' for the benefit of the audience at all occasions; Zeke offered to help in this area. Don agreed it would "glue the proceedings together".
Dennis reported that his talks with Jerry McBride of the Middlebury Library continued to be start-and-stop affairs, and Dennis would continue to care for the archives until they got a good home with public accessibility. In the meantime, the archives continued to be used for the radio show.
Dennis noted that the Kalvos & Damian New Music Bazaar had expanded its coverage in the radio show and website, and were expecting to begin internetcasting within the month. Because the show was seeking grant funds, Dennis asked that the Vermont Composers agree to become part of a consortium with WGDR and the VCME to apply for NEA funds. The group agreed, with Don offering the caveat that all national performance agreements be respected by public radio and internet broadcasters.
Wonderful chocolate-covered blueberries and cherries were available, as well as an insanity-generating chocolate cheesecake, and great coffee. All board members were wired by meeting's end. Next meeting will be in late March or early April, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, to be hosted by David Fuqua.
Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Secretary