Nothing about the Town Hall 20-21 calendar is normal. Coronavirus left no aspect of society untouched but perhaps nothing yielded so quickly, so uncontroversially, as our choice to gather—for art, for community, for worship, for anything.
We can choose not to gather, but artists never really choose not to create. Because music isn’t summoned by a concert. Sculpture doesn’t materialize in a museum. Fiction doesn’t assemble itself into a bound volume. A devoted artist is always singing, shaping, reaching; every finished work is the start of the next. Artists are explorers at the edge of human expression and discovery; the places and moments where we gather with them are just appointments with their life’s work in progress.
Last month you might have noticed that Town Hall’s first ever Digital Season started heavy on conversations. Our spring events showed us they translate online without much “signal loss”; they actually gain a cool informality. But figuring out what music can be online requires considerably more inspiration.
Curators Joshua Roman (Town Music) and Jon Kertzer (Global Rhythms) assured us that this moment demanded a different way of connecting for artists and audiences; all our existing shows for this year needed to be postponed or reimagined. Global Rhythms will begin its reboot after the new year, but Town Music kicks off this month with a season devoted, essentially, to what artists do in that space between concerts—space experienced by audiences as a kind of “silence” that’s, in reality, anything but.
To open the season Joshua decided to come back to Seattle, where he began his professional career. It’s the last place he truly called home, and he’s returning not for an appointment but for a 10 week performance period. This Fermata will be the busiest silence you’ve ever heard, featuring rehearsals or jam sessions, conversations or composition or concerts, all captured and shared through our Digital Stage. The programming will be whatever emerges between an artist and a producer and an audience in a period of personal and societal pause.
Joshua and Town Hall envision this event as a time to find new strength; a time to reconnect with priorities and possibilities; a time to prepare for what comes next, knowing that nothing is guaranteed. Town Music has always provided up-close access to Joshua’s artistic curiosity and we hope this will be the perfect culmination of a relationship we’ve developed over his 13 seasons as Artistic Director.
Along with the calendar’s other arts offerings this month—the return of Philharmonia Northwest; three extraordinary Earshot Jazz shows from our Forum (which converts rather nicely into an intimate online club for the 2020 Festival); the warmly hilarious Katsura Sunshine, live from Japan with a modern expression of the 400 year old tradition of Rakugo comic “standup” and storytelling; and Arts Adventure, a city-wide, all ages scavenger hunt featuring dozens of local arts partners—Joshua’s program marks a perfect kickoff for our exploration of how the internet can actually enhance our experience of art, rather than simply remind us of what we’re missing…
Because let’s be honest—none of us expected to unpack our beautiful new home, only to box it up six months later and move it all online.
We can’t wait until we are able to gather with you together again, but until then we will do everything we can to offer the sustenance of issues, ideas and inspiration, and to help make this time of exile as rich and fulfilling as possible.