Find Your Part, Do Your Part: A Lesson from Two Interviews

Joshua Jampol has a great interview with Kasper Bech Holten, head of Copenhagen’s Royal Opera, in his book Living Opera. This bit was of interest:

“It forces us to think about why we’re here, what we’re doing, then telling that story…So it was very important for me to find answers to that question – What is opera, and why do we do it? – to find answers to that question – What is opera, and why do we do it? – answers I could tell myself, my artists, my staff, and the audience. And have it be one coherent story I tell behind the scenes and to the public…You need a vision for why we exist. Why do we spend so much of the taxpayer’s money? What’s our contribution?”

Jessica Hopper, editor in chief of The Pitchfork Review, had a great conversation on Longform Podcast. Here is a wonderful part that writer Austin Kleon found fascinating:

“Back then, pre-internet, everybody was expected to participate, to keep the economy of things alive… That was what a fanzine was. I have a very distinct memory of going to a show in Minneapolis as a teenager and hearing someone who I very much respected in the scene talking about how, ‘Oh, that guy, he just goes to shows. He doesn’t play in a band, he doesn’t book anything, he doesn’t make a fanzine, he doesn’t write, he doesn’t put bands up at his house. He doesn’t do his part.’ And I was like, ‘I gotta do a fanzine. I gotta have something to show for being here…’.

Holten and Hopper both emphasize the question of contribution. They constantly asked themselves what part they were playing for their music community. Holten had to question not only the government funded Royal Opera’s existence but its service to Copenhagen. Hopper had to question not only her existence in Minneapolis’ music scene but her service to it.

There is a lesson there.

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