Our Board President, Leigh Deusinger, reflects on how we got started and where we're going.
I distinctly remember sitting around a kitchen table that evening. The conversation alternately lively and reflective…punctuated by “that is exactly what I mean!” and “I AGREE” and “Wouldn’t it be even better if” type comments. It was a giant ideation session forming what was to become Chamber Project St. Louis. The dialogue flowed around what the group stood for, what would be its position in the community, what was its purpose, what it would look like in reality, how would it work, and where and when would it all would start. And, that in fact was the start. The group was still yet unnamed and would be for some time but there was a single encompassing concept in and around all that was discussed. It was single unifying theme: a desire to connect – through music with individuals, with audiences, with the community.
There were subsequent meetings. And many more brainstorm sessions. Names were suggested. Many! Names were discarded. Revised. And considered. Mission statements were written. Rewritten. Logos were drawn, scrapped, and remade. Emails flew. Ideas sparked thoughts. Thoughts sparked inspired action. Plans were drawn. Edited. And redrawn. Programs were created. Edited. Revamped. Musicians were secured. Music was procured. And rehearsals followed. A venue was selected and a date was set.
This past September 12, was the 6th season opening concert. It sold out. Afterwards the Artistic Directors were ecstatic. But what many don’t know is the Artistic Directors were EQUALLY, if not more, ecstatic after their debut concert (at which I might note I could probably count on my fingers and toes the total audience). The point is no matter the size of the audience at the debut in 2008 or the 6th season opening concert this past September- their goal then – and today - was to connect. And, on all counts they succeeded and have continued to do so.
In my line of work (I moonlight as a Board Member for CPSTL) I work in the career center at a local private university. My main motivation for loving higher education is working with students and I’m fortunate to be able to work them on creating a career path based on their interests and academic pursuits. One of the biggest things my colleagues and I do to help them with that is to help them understand their strengths, build upon those, be able to articulate those, and then turn those passions and talents into purpose so that they can find connection to their life’s work.
Connecting those dots isn’t easy. It takes a lot of thought, reflection, initiative, action and follow through. It is an ongoing process, and evolution. This is Chamber Project. From their inception to the present they’ve continued to translate their passion – that is their love of music, their desire to share it with others, their belief in CONNECTING– into purpose which is to create something bigger than themselves, that has lasting effect. They’ve done it by connecting one at a time, piece by piece, person by person, concert by concert. Through their words. Their approach. Their utter professionalism. Their phenomenal music talent. And through the culture they’ve created: Their humor and “go with the moment” conversation with audience before each piece. Their network of open minded musicians. Their community partnerships. Their willingness to sit so close to the audience that you can see their eyes moving across the page, their every breath, their every look, movement, and note. And, have I mentioned they are just FUN?! Attending a CPSTL concert is totally open, transparent, accessible experience and frankly pretty unlike any other classical concert around.
There isn’t any doubt that music connects – it has a magical ability to soothe, amuse, provoke, evoke. For me, there isn’t any doubt that as with all Chamber Project St. Louis concerts that this upcoming program called CONNECT will take me back to that night in the kitchen – my first connection to Chamber Project St. Louis. I wonder, when was yours? How did it start? What do you remember about your first connection to CPSTL? Or, will October 12 perhaps be your first opportunity to CONNECT?