Last night, I sang a concert in a brewery. 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative is an intimate, comfy space where you can bring your dog, play games, and enjoy a beer or two as you sit at the indoor picnic tables. And on certain Thursday nights, you can also enjoy an inexpensive, often eclectic concert sponsored by LOLA- Local Opera Local Artists. LOLA is the brainchild of mezzo-soprano and newly named Executive Director of Armstrong Community Music School Liz Cass, who started a concert series at 4th Tap two years ago as part of this small opera company's season. It pays a little bit and you're pretty much guaranteed a fun, enthusiastic audience of LOLA regulars, music fans, and the occasional curious visitor.
Many of us do these types of concerts --- intimate, low profile, local. For some singers, this is the career. For others, it's a great way to supplement the bigger-paycheck, career-building gigs. And the singing industry being what it is, doing the "little gigs" is almost never free of judgement, from others or from yourself. There's that voice in your ear, telling you that you should be doing something bigger (maybe you should). That there are those who will look down on you for taking the little gigs (there are). That somehow, on the Big Stage of Classical Music, what you're doing isn't important.
But it is.
A man came up to me after our concert last night. He was excited. He was not, he said, a typical opera-goer; but experiencing the power of opera in an intimate, casual space, where you could bring your dog and sit and drink a beer while you listened, with a fun and lively concert format ... that was something different for him. "You don't expect," he said, "to walk into a place like this and experience something soul-shaking."
If you ever think your small concerts aren't important ... think again. You don't know who you might be reaching and what impact that will make on their days, their weeks, their lives.
When we perform, we transfer energy. We're literally taking the creative energy of the composer, our creative energy and our colleagues', combining them into something unique, and throwing it out to the audience. And we get that energy back from the audience, both while we're performing, and sometimes afterwards. It's why live theater will never die --- because this is quite literally soul food, friends.
So don't get discouraged, don't undervalue yourselves.
Just get out there and shake some souls.