Classical music can seem less-than-accessible to those lacking a formal education in Mozart and Bach. That’s why in the spring of 2013, a group of five friends banded together to form One Found Sound, a collaborative, conductor-free chamber orchestra that aims to make the genre a whole lot more mainstream.
“We keep our ticket costs low, perform without a stage, chat with our audiences, encourage vocalization and clapping between movements, the use of cell phones and we have an open bar at each concert,” says co-founder and bassoonist Georgeanne Banker. “We cultivate an environment where people don’t feel inhibited by their surroundings and are able to lose themselves in the music.” The purpose of the organization is to help music lovers rediscover the beauty of the creative process and let go of any old-school rules. “Operating without a single music director and without a conductor, we wanted to create an ensemble that itself is a representation of the collaborative power of community,” Banker maintains. “Each piece of music is democratically selected, rehearsed and performed, coalescing the ideas and creativity of our 35 musicians.”
Founders: Five graduates of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music: Banker, Sarah Bonomo, Emily Botel-Barnard, Sasha Launer and Scott Padden.
Budget: $80,000 per year
Key Supporters: “We are very grateful to have a strong network of individual donors who make our orchestra possible!” Banker says.
Inspiration: According to Banker, “One Found Sound was founded to bring accessible, comfortable and shared classical music experiences to our community. You don’t need to know anything about classical music or concert etiquette to be moved by this art form, and as young musicians, we felt that our community had a need for spaces where any individual — seasoned concertgoers and neophytes alike — is able to engage with the music on both a personal and communal level.”
The Impact: The founders have been pleased to receive encouraging feedback from concertgoers who’ve declared their gratitude for the novel experience. Following a performance, an audience member wrote Banker, gushing: “There was so much to be enamored by. I loved the intimate and informal setting, the vibrant and young performers. I’m 29, and don’t see many people my age at the symphony. I loved being close enough to watch the eyes of individual performers track each other in a conductorless setting.”
Get Involved: The simplest way to show your support for One Found Sound is to show up. “We invite you to join us at any of our performances next season!” Banker declares. “Our strong network of community supporters and volunteers has enabled us to realize our mission, and we look forward to welcoming new audience members in the future.” To get more involved, visit the organization online at www.onefoundsound.org/support.
— Michelle Konstantinovsky