Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Need a Venue? Learn the secret handshake...

The factoid that Haydn and Mozart were members of Masonic Lodges suggests something about their liberal/enlightenment/secular associations in Josephine Vienna but probably doesn't influence the social lives of many composers nowadays. However, it might, in fact, suggest an interesting solution to the problem of finding a venue for performing your work. Many of the traditional "fraternal" societies, like the Masons, Foresters, Odd Fellows, Moose, Elks, Raccoons, Haymakers, Sons & Daughters of Lichtenstein etc., have been in continuous decline in membership for many years (here's a table for US Masonic lodges). Indeed, in many localities, they verge on extinction for lack of membership. But some of these groups have substantial lodge buildings, often with theatre-like facilities, and often in very convenient locations. And, as a bonus, they usually have their tax-exempt status all worked out, sometimes offer decent insurance policies, and may even have some endowment funds. So here's the opportunity: if there's a moribund Lodge in your neighborhood, gather your musical friends together and for the price of membership (and, yes, all the — knock three times, don't forget your apron — ceremonial and charitable duties that entails), you may gain access to an useful space for presenting your music.

3 comments:

Elaine Fine said...

Mozart might have been first interested in Freemasonry as early as 1773 when he visited the Freemason Dr. Mesmer (yes, that Mesmer--the Mesmerizer) but he did not apply for membership in the Viennese lodge “Zu Wohltätigkeit” until December 4, 1784. He reached the level of apprentice on December 14th.

Ten days after reading the first three “Haydn” quartets with Mozart, Haydn applied for membership in another Viennese masonic lodge “Zur wahren Eintracht.” Mozart’s A major quartet marked his assent to the level of “Journeyman” at “Zur wahren Eintracht,” and it was during the weeks of Haydn’s initiation there that Mozart completed the rest of his “Haydn” quartets.

paulhmuller said...

If you count yourself as a believer, the church offers an opportunity to have your work sung on a regular basis.

I write for our sanctuary choir and typically have 4 or 6 pieces sung per year. Our lectionary texts - gospel, epistles, psalms - offer plenty of material to work with and, when done right, an original musical piece adds to the sermon message and the service generally. And it is all squarely in the tradition of Bach and most of the baroque masters.

A very rewarding way to give your gift if you are so inclined... And some of the larger churches offer full time paying positions as organist/choir director.

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