Music in the Mountains to hold virtual highlights concert
Special to Prospector
Music in the Mountains kicks off its real 40th anniversary tomorrow with a virtual celebration of SummerFest Highlights Concert revisited, with a pay-what-you-can online experience.
Music in the Mountains was founded in 1981 when a small group of local music lovers approached the late Paul Perry and current board president Terry Brown with the idea that local residents should not have to travel great distances to have a great musical experience. It is reasonable to assume the group could not have imagined how innovative the organization would become to continue to serve their supporters.
KNOW & GO
WHO: Music in the Mountains
WHAT: SummerFest Highlights Concert
WHERE: Virtually, online at Youtube.com
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m.
PRICE: Free – Pay what you can
MORE INFO: http://www.musicinthemountains.org or call 530-265-6124
Music in the Mountains rose to the challenges of social distancing by moving online. Using technology to continue fulfilling the mission to “inspire and engage community members of all ages by providing access to extraordinary classical music through performances and youth education programs,” Music in the Mountains produced over 250 hours of virtual programming in 2020.
Marketing and Donor Services Manager Hilary Hodge said the organization is doing well despite the restrictions brought on by the pandemic.
“2020 was a wildly successful year for us,” said Hodge. “It’s because of the innovation of our artistic director (Ryan Murray) and our staff, who were all willing to pivot to digital content really quickly, and we had wonderful support from our board to have creative license to move in a new direction.”
Hodge added that prior to the pandemic, many classical music organizations had not embraced some of the technology that other art associations and industries had, so it “was really great to try out new software and new formats” to reach their audience. The organization has even moved choir practice to Zoom and it is working out really well, she said.
“It gives everybody an opportunity to get together and see each other and sing,” said Hodge. “We, like everybody else who loves music, miss live music.”
While some may question why the organization continues to bring programming when they are not able to gather, Hodge answers that the arts are actually what keeps many people going.
“The arts are what make us human,” said Hodge.
In 2020, Music in the Mountains made the commitment to keep their staff employed and to continue with their mission. They have been able to attain that goal. They have also been able to pay musicians to produce content, which is also part of their mission, noting that many musicians have been hit hard during the pandemic — not only from not being able to perform, but as many are independent contractors, qualifying for funds has been difficult.
“There is a cultural relevance that is important, that we want to keep alive but there are also the practical relationships we have with people who have performing and working with this organization for all 40 years and maintaining those relationships and honoring those commitments as much as we could during this time is an important part of the value system of the organization,” said Hodge.
Music in the Mountains also offers music education classes and has a couple of youth programs being launched next month in partnership with the Center for the Arts. Hodge said they cannot wait to get into the Center to perform.
“They have talked about the sound system,” said Hodge. “Everybody is hearing about the sound system, but for the people who have actually heard it in person, it lives up to the hype. We are thrilled for that chapter, for sure.”
Grants, community members and even new donors have given Music in the Mountains the support necessary for the organization to continue to make quality programs available. The programs are offered for free with a “pay what you can” option. Hodge said the organization has received more access via the world wide web.
“There is a bright side. Some days it is hard to see, but there are a lot of blessings to count. It has been really cool to see someone from Minnesota donating to an art organization in Northern California. There is something very sweet and heartening and it does make you feel connected to a larger global community through music and the arts and the internet.”
The SummerFest Highlights Concert will include new performances but one of the elements Music in the Mountains is excited about in the presentation is some archival footage that shows the endurance of the organization.
“It’s really endearing. I think the community that has been such a big part of the longevity of Music in the Mountains will really enjoy this vintage experience,” said Hodge.
The concert is free, giving patrons access on a pay-what-they-can basis. Patrons are encouraged to RSVP at musicinthemountains.org to be sent a direct link to the concert as well as the concert program order.
Like many performance-based organizations, Music in the Mountains is hoping to be live again this year. Hodge said they are waiting on health department regulations and making certain there is a good foundation of safety protocols in place to move in that direction.
“There is something so special about joining together with your neighbors to see a concert. I think all of us have had the thrill and definitely the enjoyment of getting together at our fairgrounds and seeing our fellow community members and experiencing something together whether that’s the County Fair or Worldfest or Music in the Mountains SummerFest. It’s something that we all miss and look forward to in the — hopefully — very near future.
“Given the circumstances we feel really great about what we have been able to provide.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.
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