September 21, 1997
The meeting was called to order at 2:00 pm on September 21, 1997 at the home of Donald Stewart in Tunbridge, Vermont. Zeke Hecker acted as moderator. In attendance were: Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Keith Gibson, Martha Gibson, David Gunn, Bill Harris, Zeke Hecker, Timothy Price, and Don Stewart. Planning but unable to attend were Bea Phillips and Lisa Jablow.
The non-profit status of the Consortium has been put on hold. A legal opinion suggested that the Consortium is a trade organization, but Don was looking for other expert advice and was assured this opinion was wrong. However, there are no volunteers with expertise available to do the non-profit application. Joining other groups such as the American Composers Forum will demand five to 10 percent of the monies received. Bill Harris pointed out that groups such as garden clubs have received non-profit status, and one such group will offer a copy of its application for the Consortium's review. Dennis and Tim both thought lack of formal tax-exempt status gave the Consortium more freedom to operate.
Zeke expressed an interest in Vermont composers continuing to have a voice in programming, and in the funding of concerts. He compared the current situation with that of the Sara Doncaster's Warebrook Festival, hoping that the Consortium could, if under another's aegis, maintain a balance in favor of Vermont compositions. Zeke also followed up on Bill's suggestion of cooperative funding during the summer tourist season by noting that venues are hard to come by, with a lot of music in the summer, and he worried about the difficulty of coordinating Consortium events with other organizations so no conflicts or bad feelings were created.
The value and extent of the current Consortium status were discussed. Don reiterated that as of now, the Consortium was a non-profit organization, though not tax-exempt. Tim agreed that independence was important, and that he was "not interested so much in generating a concert, but seeing if there's something worth spending time to promote," that is, experiences worth pursuing and first finding some material to make worthwhile programs from. Don was wary of the Consortium acting as a jury, which was at odds with its history and purpose, but Tim then wondered "what we can do with what we have." Zeke explained how typical programs were created, and Don noted that money could be obtained after the process was defined. Tim talked about scores worth doing, but Zeke said that there was "no shortage of music -- we have stacks of music," including all media, and scores "haven't been excluded except on the basis of resources." Bill reviewed the history of performances, which used volunteers until the last festival, where $2,000 was raised to hire four groups; "we can't go back to volunteer performances," he said, so we need money first.
Tim wondered if it would be easier "to sell the product if the product is in hand," doing music being conscious of having public support. Zeke noted that "our product is composers," and pointed out that we had agreed there would be no more festivals, even though the change to professionals in the last festival was successful, and "with good performers, justice was done" to the music.
The question was posed to enter into affiliation with the American Composers Forum. Dennis asked to put off discussion of affiliation until the end of the meeting, "once we have some idea what our purpose actually is." Bill suggested it might be worth changing the group's name to minimize the local feel, reducing the emphasis on Vermont. No action was taken.
Discussion followed, including how sponsorship would be done, where funds would be obtained, and what other jazz groups already existed in Vermont. Don noted that Sonny Rollins received little attention in Montpelier, and attendance at his upcoming concert in Burlington would be worth watching. The Lost Nation series was mentioned as producing both good results (Martha's comment) and poor ones (Dennis's comment). Zeke described how the Friends of Music at Guilford did their work, and Tim thought a program with awards by the Consortium would be valuable. As an aside, Tim mentioned that some controversy might also help. Zeke was not worried about small audiences, but Martha thought audience size could be improved with "a little bit extra for the audience," including Q&A sessions, workshops, rehearsals and other opportunities "for people who love music," or even musical 'wannabes' who go to such venues as Bennington or Bread Loaf. These should "not just be one-way events," she said, and should be "more user-beneficial". At universities, sessions would draw students. Martha would find places, look for funding, and make sure other organizations knew about the programs. Her plan was to work it out within a year. The board was very welcoming to the new ideas, and offered the Gibsons the Consortium's name and approval for their efforts.
Dennis said that he had upgraded his equipment and software to make preserving the archive possible, and received loans of some other equipment to support that archiving, including a CD-R device. However, he said he was not in a position to volunteer the time required.
Dennis encouraged the group to think about issuing selected parts of the archive on a series of compact discs, as is done on the MusicWorks label in Canada. Noting that the costs of production had dropped significantly, it would make it worthwhile to do. The group would have to make sure both composer and performer rights were negotiated, and then he would be able to produce the masters.
Vermont composers have been very laggard in providing music for broadcast, including on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar which is re-broadcast on the Internet on AudioNet, and has recently been recommended by the New York Times. The group encouraged Dennis's activities, but took no action.
David then described the expense of producing a commercial CD, having used members of the VCME for his upcoming recording. Tim Price passed out copies of his music on cassette, and expressed disappointment that no other members of the Consortium had followed up on his message to bring tapes to exchange.
Two years ago, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra had insisted that, as part of its being a fiscal umbrella for the composers festival, they be able to do readings of new Vermont work. Dennis asked what had become of the program. No one from the Consortium had pursued it (nor had the VSO), but Don encouraged Tim to talk to Tom Philion; David suggested Eleanor Long. Discussion followed about the likely expense, as well as the lack of benefit to the VSO. Tim said he would work on it. David also suggested contacting the Vermont Philharmonic, which had commissioned work in the past, and Don offered the name of manager Dan Cambra as the contact.
Zeke proposed that a wind trio or quartet be developed for small halls in Vermont. He and Don offered to perform, and to search for a flute and bassoon to join them. An announcement would be made in the next Consorting, and in the meantime interested composers should contact Zeke or Don.
As part of the Consortium's planned archiving program, Bill agreed to retrieve the archive of Consortium presently material sitting idle at the Middlebury College Library.
Dennis said, since bulletin boards and IRC were not available through local Internet service providers, he would get information and chat room instructions out to the on-line mailing list for his private server, and also put a link on the Consortium's web page.
The next meetings will be:
Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Secretary