Building Communities with Music, March 9-11 By Andrew Balio
Join friends and fellows of the Future Symphony Institute in company, conversation, and concert. Make this spring break memorable and meaningful: unwind, be inspired, and get connected.
Léon Krier, a founding member of the New Urbanism movement and senior fellow at the Future Symphony Institute, will be our keynote speaker. As an architectural theorist, he has thought long and hard — and written eloquently — about the role that architecture and urban planning play in human settlement and how they shape and are shaped by healthy communities. His plans for Poundbury in Dorset, England, on behalf of HRH Prince Charles of Wales, and those for Seaside have both been highly successful and inspired a great deal of conversation about the principles of New Urbanism and the renewal of classical style. As an avid amateur musician, Krier has spent countless hours engaged with music as both a performer and an audience member. His preliminary design for the London Symphony Orchestra’s new home has attracted a great deal of attention in the international press. This synthesis of architectural vision, theory, and practical experience with a deep appreciation for the tradition and requirements of live classical music make Léon a very exciting choice to head this symposium.
We also expect to be joined by
David M. Schwarz, whose concert halls are the very best that are being built in America today. His confident, courageous and considered designs are inspiring a quiet revolution. And perhaps no one is more qualified to speak about the particular considerations and needs of concert halls and how to meet those needs within the context of community than he and his formidable team of highly skilled architects.
Duncan Stroik brings a unique perspective as both a leading figure in the practice of sacred architecture and a professor of one of the most prestigious architecture studios in the country. In some very profound ways, concert halls reflect the origins of our tradition of live classical music in sacred spaces. The parallels exist not only in the relationship between what goes on in both spaces, but also the way in which those buildings relate to our communities and our daily life. Professor Stroik is working with his students right now on a project that focuses on concert hall design, and we look forward to seeing at this symposium what the next generation of America’s best architects is coming up with.
The founder of FSI is also an orchestral musician, and Andrew Balio has played in all of the world’s greatest (and some of its not-so-greatest) halls. It was his opportunity to experience so many concert spaces in so many different communities — and classical music’s remarkably varying degrees of success in those spaces and communities — that began his reflections on the challenges facing our orchestras and our tradition of live classical music today. Balio’s focus is the constant reminder that the halls we build today must be lived in not just tomorrow, but the day after, too. They become the home of our musicians and audiences and the neighbors of us all.
A gathering at the crossroads of urban planning, architecture, and music to discuss the ways that music and architecture relate to community and to each other — and what that should mean both to orchestras and to community leaders and planners. With the assistance of the Seaside Institute, the generous support of Seaside’s visionary founder Robert Davis, and your help, we plan to engage filmmaker David Donnelly of Culture Monster to make a film of the proceedings. We will make his film freely available for the benefit in perpetuity of everyone involved – or just interested – in this issue.
But if you want to help shape the direction of our discussion, you’ll have to be there. Registration will be limited to 40 participants to ensure maximum engagement and interaction. There will be sessions and performances scheduled for each day, but also plenty of time allowed to mingle and explore these beautiful and remarkable communities.
Scheduled to begin the evening of March 9 and conclude the afternoon of March 11 in Seaside, which has been described by Time magazine as “the most astonishing design achievement of its era and, one might hope, the most influential.”
Seaside itself — and nearby Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach — will be an important part of our discussion. All three communities are built on the principals of New Urbanism and emphasize an understanding of community that, by its very success, should command our attention and inspire public dialogue about the place of music and concert halls in our lives.
We are all familiar with what is by now the well-established trend of building concert halls that function as modern art masterpieces – the bigger and more unusual, the better. They are impressive because they are no small feat. Vast sums of capital are sunk into these glamorous, outsized projects even before they inevitably run over-budget. But what about the orchestras and communities that have to live with these halls after the architects, project managers, and superstar funders have moved on – taking even the naming rights with them? How often do we follow up on the less-glamorous prospect of making a home in and beside these halls?
Live orchestral music has its home in the concert hall; and the concert hall has its home in the collective architecture of a community. This suggests that the considerations of where and how to build concert spaces extend far beyond the halls themselves. For instance, what about the newer trend of situating concert halls in larger Arts & Culture districts? What does such a decision say about the place of live classical music in our daily lives? What is the place of music in our daily lives — or what should it be — and how does architecture and urban planning determine that answer? Is the performing arts center just another kind of shopping mall?
When orchestras rack their brains to discover the ways that they are relevant to their communities, they invariably come up with a wide range of replies that almost never includes their concert hall. Yet, there is little else that could appear on that list that is as permanent and concrete as the daily encounter of a community with its concert hall. It’s time to look at the subject more carefully and to ask questions about the things we mistake today as “given.”