The CMA conference is one I have had the great opportunity to attend a number of times. This year, Dianne Swanson, a Cecilian Chamber Series board member, chose to join me. Here are her impressions…
(It was a very cold and snowy time in New York!)

A day in the life of a conference goer:
Chamber Music America, New York City, January 2018

Lore and I have spent the previous evening sharing a bottle of wine and brainstorming – there is nothing like a conference with inspiring talks to get the juices flowing!

Yikes! It is morning and we have both slept in! Quickly – a fast shower, slip into some clothes, the winter coat and hat and out onto the busy New York street. It is snowing , an awful storm and the wind slams ice particles into our face. We get into a warm diner and pick up a quick breakfast. Although we are staying next to Times Square, there are lots of cheap diners to get food.

We listen to a famous keynote speaker who hosts a NPR show. Most of the audience, Americans, recognize him. He does not disappoint. He inspires us to take risks, assume the risks may end in failure, but to keep trying anyway.

The afternoon is interesting to me, the treasurer, who really knows nothing of the intricacies of finding and booking artists. I sit in on a couple of appointments that Lore has made with booking agents and listen to discussions about potential artist engagements.

There are so many excellent artists vying for engagements with concert series: string trios, string quartets, brass groups, guitar duos and soloists of all stripes. The choices are exciting but Lore is hunting for 2019/20 season and must get artists who have time in their calendars which fit our season, our day of performance and so on. It appears that so many Chamber series want Sunday performances and booking agents plead with us to change our day to another in the week.

A change of pace – we slip into a ½ hour showcase of a string quartet. Because the young quartet also does extra concerts for kids on the autism spectrum, Lore hurries out after their performance to chat with them. Cecilian Concert Series wants artists like these, who play traditional concerts PLUS play an outreach concert.

Now, we attend a panel discussion on retaining volunteers and then another discussion on a promotional strategy. Another item to add to the list: make a promotional strategy when we get home to Regina!

Now it is 6:00 o’clock,. There is an opening reception with a free drink and some hor d’oeuvres in the conference hotel. We meet a few people but we have more events to go to! We have been invited to Steinway Hall a few blocks away, for a free performance of another fabulous chamber group, “Brooklyn Rider’ . What a beautiful piano showroom and nestled downstairs is a small performance hall where we hear a ½ hour performance. Lore and I pencil “Brooklyn Rider” onto our wish lists! But, can we afford them?

Once again we hit the streets. Lore has met some Belgian booking agents and they have invited us to the Belgian Embassy in the New York Times building. After going through serious security – showing our passports! – we travel to the 44th floor and get greeted by our hosts in a room of windows looking over the Night New York landscape! Stunning views! We nibble and drink and feel like collapsing with tiredness. It is 9:00 and we go back to our hotel to bed!

There will be no brainstorming tonight.

Dianne Swanson