If I Were a Rich Man

So, when I've won a substantial jackpot from the Florida Lottery, my big project (after assuring that me and mine are never again subject to The Man and his markets) will be to establish, endow, and run an ensemble dedicated to new and recent music.

A Board of Directors would develop an artistic vision and mission along guidelines broadly laid out by me (Hey, it's my unearned wealth!). The centerpiece of the project would be a core group of musicians, with the following instrumentation:

-string quartet (two violins, viola, cello);
-one of each of these wind instruments: flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, saxophone, forn, trumpet, trombone, tuba;
-two keyboard players;
-two percussionists;
-one laptop artist; and
-one conductor (I would be Assistant Conductor).

Each performer would receive a full-time salary and benefits (all of which would be open to negotiation), and would be free to teach and to play other gigs, in addition to their strivings as a member of Steve Hicken's MetaMusical Entity (or a better name, if possible).

The endowment also would fund a development officer and a robust publicity operation (including web presence). Outreach programs would target schools and civic organizations, and would include low- and no-price tickets for underserved populations. Tickets would be inexpensive to begin with, as the group would operate in an econmy of abundance rather than one of scarcity. There would be a commissioning component to all of this as well.

The question of home base is an interesting one. The home base should be enough of a music center that the performers could readily find other gigs. At the same time, it should be in an area that is undersupplied with performances of new and recent music. Unfortunately, it won't be hard to find places that meet that requirement.

Anyway, if I were a wealthy man.


  1. This is, with variations in institutional structure due to local standards, the idea behind the London Symphonietta, Ensemble Intercontemporain (France), and Ensemble Modern (Germany). Ensemble Modern's model -- a full-time player-run cooperative touring natinally but with local support for rehearsal and office space -- would be the best to emulate in the US.

  2. Right, Daniel.

    I know that the Ensemble Intercontemporain is affiliated with IRCAM (or at least it used to be. Do the other two groups you listed have similar institutional homes?

  3. I wrote the post yesterday, but I did read that article!