Patchwork Project, in my own words – Will’s edition

When I think about what inspires me to make music, a few things come to mind. I think about all of the beautiful music out there waiting to be explored. I think about the legacy of all of the musicians who have come before me and the dialogue that exists between us, whether this be composers or the musicians who bring their works to life. Inherent in this is so much craft. Part of this involves tradition. For centuries musicians have written treatises describing the rights and the wrongs of their art. We have settled on the correct ways for music to be interpreted. We have celebrated the bel canto technique, which prescribes vocal non-negotiables. And, we have also acknowledged the place of artists who break the rules, for without them, change and growth would not be possible.

For me, this whole project is about putting craft into practice. When I was at Eastman studying with the late Rita Shane, I was often told “there are many ways people do sing, but there’s only one right way and this is it.” From age 18, the importance of understanding the legacy of all of the greats was instilled in me. Listening to greats like Richard Tucker and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was not only meant as a source of enjoyment, but also to understand everything the music I had only begun working on could become. In the same way that singers of the past launched everything they were taught in conjunction with everything they felt into their musical lives, I am looking to make my musical home.

The idea that keeps coming back to me is that there is a need in this world for diversified art. There is not enough room for us all to do the same thing, but there is so much room for creative process. When Maria Callas sang Vissi d’arte, the last thing on her mind was copying what came before her. The way she felt the Italian language and communicated the deepest truths about Floria Tosca were based on her elevated understanding of life and her devotion to a tradition of singing that seemed to be forgotten. When I think of all the great American music out there, I can’t help but wonder, “why not?!”

We have so many wonderful regional opera companies, but the song recital is not ubiquitous in the United States in the same way. Let’s cross over into new territory. Let’s build new appreciation. Let’s listen to music in new settings and with different audiences. It is through this newness that we participate in the tradition of celebrating music in our civilization. We can find pride in the relevance of music in our native tongue. And, we can lessen the gap between the fanciest classical performances and people like you and me, who just want to have a good time.

I am so excited to share all of this with you this summer. For me, this project is about the art being as important as the artists and the artists being as important as the audiences. This, our “Patchwork Project,” seeks to thread together craft and musical works with new audiences, new cities, and new friends.

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