Eileen Carr has been managing a performing arts series for the University of Dayton for 15 years. She has served as a panelist for the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s US Artists International, and has received program support from MAAF, CMA and ArtsMidwest. Her programming embraces a wide range of genres, from classical to world traditions, and always includes artists who challenge the status quo.
What's an emerging opportunity that can be developed in the classical music performance world / how can classical music expand its impact in the present moment?
I feel like my work as a presenter IS an emerging opportunity—for our audiences and for the artists we invite. Even within the traditions of a classical chamber series (which is just one part of our annual calendar), I look for ways to stretch the notion of what classical can be, even for a mostly older audience. I include not only traditional formats and composers (what audiences THINK they want to hear), but also programs that introduce new composers and ways of making music. Some of the best moments are when audiences come away surprised by how much they enjoyed the new!
How does your institution reflect the values of the AVANT initiative in general, and/or the IMPACT PERFORMANCE competition in particular?
As a presenter of programming that serves both our campus and community, I believe our series has a responsibility to introduce our audiences to music that will nudge them into new places, new perspectives. We are located in a small Midwestern city where people are comfortable with traditional genres. But I find that if I can program material that expands traditions gently and creatively, we all benefit and enjoy the adventurous programming I love to present. I think audiences can be especially responsive when the innovation is fueled by a commitment to social issues—a perspective that fuels our University’s mission as well.
What would you say to an artist considering applying to the IMPACT PERFORMANCE innovation competition?
Think about the audience. This is challenging, because there are so many potential audiences. But perhaps what I mean is, although your work should reflect your own inner voice and passion, make sure you’re thinking about how to bridge to people who are not already fans. Think about how a novice listener might experience your work. Preaching to the choir can be satisfying. But preaching to the wider world is both harder and richer work.