Page 15 - Common Chords Grant Rapids Final Report

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achieving project goals & outcomes
page 15
Community members relish contact with Minnesota Orchestra musicians. In future weeks, work to expand
opportunities for interaction with musicians, particularly through semi-formal events that complement the
more formal schedule (for example, meet and greets after concerts or sessions, informal coffees with
interested community members, opportunities for private lessons, etc.)
Encourage steering committee members to be present at each event. At least one Grand Rapids steering
committee attended every event, and this commitment made an enormous difference in building connections
with community venues and troubleshooting any difficulties that arose. It also gave steering committee
members the opportunity to see their hard work coming to fruition and gave them an overall sense of the
week’s full impact.
Continue to concentrate on access issues. Many of the areas for improvement suggested by community
members and the planning team alike centered around access. Though accessibility was considered carefully
throughout the planning process, there is always room to increase accessibility around issues like
transportation, information sharing and scheduling of events. As future communities plan Common Chords
projects, addressing challenges to broad community access should continue to be a central focus of steering
committee planning efforts.
As we look back at the Grand Rapids Common Chords week, three themes seem to emerge time and again in our
feedback and discussions with community members, musicians, staff and steering committee.
Through this program,
classical music was a force for bringing people together
. People commented on the many
positive ways the music made them feel (“Fabulous. I couldn’t keep my toes from tapping”, “It brought sunshine and
color to an otherwise gray day”, “I feel like I want to go home and practice my violin”). Local musicians were inspired
by playing alongside Minnesota Orchestra musicians and hundreds of audience members found themselves
transported and excited by the music of the Minnesota Orchestra. It is refreshing to see that this music has the power
it has had for centuries to touch people’s lives and connect them in shared experience.
Many of the sessions had
a magical moment of engagement
that could clearly be observed: when the school
superintendent rose to conduct the string quartet before a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, when members of the
Minnesota Orchestra danced with Ojibwe community members and when the high school chorus rose to sing from
their seats in the audience. As one Minnesota Orchestra musician observed, “no one was a passive participant.”
These moments of active participation and engagement transformed the experience for everyone in the room.
Finally, this program
built new mutual understanding
among the people of our state. Members of the Grand Rapids
community commented frequently that they were surprised at how approachable the musicians were—and were
pleased to see how much the musicians truly enjoyed their community. Musicians stated that they enjoyed being
known as individuals, rather than as a member of the larger group. These person-to-person connections throughout
the week dismantled barriers as people learned from one another.
It is with gratitude to the community of Grand Rapids, the steering committee volunteers, the musicians of the
Minnesota Orchestra, conductors Sarah Hicks and Courtney Lewis, Minnesota Orchestra leadership and
administration and the program’s funders that we present this summary report. We look forward to many future
collaborations with communities across the state of Minnesota that will build upon the strong foundation laid by this
remarkable week in Grand Rapids in October of 2011.