There was a period in America when music was played live, frequently in parlors and on dusty porches. Creative expression reigned; and the term "amateur musician" was something to be proud of, a lover (to use the term's French origin) of music not a bungler of music, that seems to be a derisive and dismissive use of the term in common use today.
Since then, recorded and commercialized music and has turned us into "passive and detached connoisseurs, " rather than citizens engaged in creative expression that is so vital to a healthy and thriving community.
The Los Angeles Music Center--through its Active Arts program (watch the video)-- is transforming itself from principally a performance art center to a civic cultural center, using participatory arts and its public spaces to build community. This is a complex task that challenges our assumptions about the meaning of art, as well as our own personal and institutional roles in that.
I've been fortunate to be involved with this transformation the last four years. I will be posting here developments at the Music Center, with the hope of creating a dialogue among interested arts and culture advocates in the Signal Hill-Long Beach area, to see if there may be something to be learned and applied locally. Stay tuned; engage in the dialogue!