So few things last 30 years. If a marriage, for instance, lasts 30 years we marvel and ask what the secret of success is. Find someone driving a 30-year-old car, and we begin to consider the car a classic and the driver something of a mechanical wizard for keeping it road-worthy for so many years.
But for an arts series to last that long, without real alteration and subversion of its original mission, is truly remarkable.
You see, audiences are fickle beasts. They are, by and large, attracted to the new, the opportunity to do or see something they haven’t yet experienced. Give people something similar, performance after performance and year after year, and numbers will usually waver and dive. It’s the circle of artistic life and the rule of performance thumb.
Of course, every rule has its exceptions.
In Augusta, that exception is Tuesday’s Music Live, the somewhat informal but truly beloved concert series held at Saint Paul’s Church. Next Tuesday will mark the opening of the 30th season of this rightfully beloved concert series. The concept, so simple – world-class music followed by the option of a catered lunch – hasn’t altered much. It’s beauty, I would argue, is in its simplicity. It’s an event that encourages both outing-style planning and sneaking-in-the-back attendance. It’s as formal or casual as audiences are comfortable with. There is no dress code, no tiered seating and no preferential treatment. It’s initial – and continued – success has been built on a foundation on a willfully populist approach to presenting very fine music to anyone willing to make the minimal effort required to experience it.
For those not familiar with the series, I encourage you to check out this season’s premier, a performance by the Mirari Brass Quintet at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 26. With a wide-ranging repertoire that includes Mingus, Mendelssohn and all stations in between, the Mirari has built a reputation on eclectic programing and superior performance.
The concert will be followed by a catered lunch available for $12 with reservation.
And while on the subject of success, let us all tip our hats to the Greater Augusta Arts Council for another wildly successful Arts In the Heart of Augusta festival. An event that has truly found its footing, this event, which is both carefully curated and completely freewheeling, is rumored to have had its most fiscally successful year yet. And while it is true that there is always room for improvement – I, for one, would like to see lighting inside the tented stages – organizers are to be commended for another well-produced weekend.