Dispatch from fresh inc 2014

I’m writing this post from the breathtaking atrium of the Milwaukee Art Museum, enveloped by the sound of Kevin Rank performing Blues for Gilbert on the vibraphone as part of the 2014 fresh inc festival. All around me are museum-goers, children, families, staff, couples – all of them taking a pause in their day to wonder at the sonic possibilities of this instrument, to take in the rocks, the waves, the seagulls as they swoop above the lake behind the performer.

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What a perfect way to kick off these two weeks of intense collaboration, exploration, and performance. I am not exaggerating when I say that fresh inc is among the most professionally satisfying things any of us at 5HE have ever been a part of. The festival brings together composers and instrumentalists under the age of 32 to create and present 15 new works of chamber music, presenting 11 concerts in 14 days. The packed performance schedule includes final concerts at Constellation and UW-Parkside, intimate salons at libraries and museums, and educational programs at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha.

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When we’re not in the rehearsal room or on one of the many stages we’ll visit over these two weeks, we’re in workshops with an incredibly diverse cast of guest experts who join members of 5HE to provide training on starting new arts ventures, fundraising, marketing, licensing, contracts, educational outreach, audience-centric programming, public speaking, and much more. Participating artists work in teams to apply what they learn to final group projects, and those who are back at the festival for a second year are individually coached towards the launch of their new ventures.

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Each year I’m incredibly inspired by the artists who join us, and by hearing their stories as I sit with them one-on-one to help them plan their next steps. This is a festival that attracts participants who are not just great musicians, but are also phenomenal human beings. In the year following each festival, I have been incredibly proud to see their individual careers flourish and to collaborate with them on future artistic projects. For more on that, check out our fresh ventures page, which showcases the work of our alums.

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I look forward to the many programs we’ll present over the next several days, and to watching our performers and composers interact with audiences of all ages and types. I’m incredibly grateful to all of the participants who have traveled so far to join us at the festival this year – welcome to the 5HE family!

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