The Seaside Symposium: Music, Architecture, and Community

The Concept

A gathering at the crossroads of urban planning, architecture, and music to discuss the ways that music and architecture relate to community and to each other – and what that should mean both to orchestras and to community leaders and planners.

Scheduled to begin the evening of March 9 and conclude the afternoon of March 11, 2018 in Seaside, Florida, described by Time magazine as “the most astonishing design achievement of its era and, one might hope, the most influential.” Seaside itself – and nearby Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach – will be an important part of the discussion.

The Speakers

Léon Krier, a founding member of the New Urbanist movement and senior fellow at the Future Symphony Institute, will be the keynote speaker. As an architectural theorist, he has thought long and hard – and written eloquently – about the role that architecture and urban planning play in human settlement and how they shape and are shaped by healthy communities. His plans for Poundbury in Dorset, England on behalf of HRH Prince Charles of Wales, and those for Seaside, Florida have both been highly successful and inspired a great deal of conversation about the principles of New Urbanism and the renewal of classical style. As a an avid amateur musician, Léon has spent countless hours engaged with music as both a performer and an audience member. His preliminary design for the London Symphony Orchestra’s new home has attracted a great deal of attention in the international press. This synthesis of architectural vision, theory, and practical experience with a deep appreciation for the tradition and requirements of live classical music make Léon a very exciting choice to head this symposium.

Other speakers will be added as they accept our invitation to become part of this conversation. Andrew Balio, FSI founder and principal trumpet of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, will be the moderator and host.

The need for this symposium

We are all familiar with what is by now the well-established trend of building concert halls that function as modern art masterpieces – the bigger and more unusual, the better. They are impressive because they are no small feat. Vast sums of capital are sunk into these glamorous, outsized projects even before they inevitably run over-budget. But what about the orchestras and communities that have to live with these halls after the architects, project managers, and superstar funders have moved on – taking even the naming rights with them? How often do we follow up on the less-glamorous prospect of making a home in and beside these halls?

Live orchestral music has its home in the concert hall; and the concert hall has its home in the collective architecture of a community. This suggests that the considerations of where and how to build concert spaces extend far beyond the halls themselves. For instance, what about the newer trend of situating concert halls in larger Arts & Culture districts? What does such a decision say about the place of live classical music in our daily lives? What is the place of music in our daily lives – or what should it be – and how does architecture and urban planning determine that answer? Is the performing arts center just another kind of shopping mall?

When orchestras rack their brains to discover the ways that they are relevant to their communities, they invariably come up with a wide range of replies that almost never includes their concert hall. Yet, there is little else that could appear on that list that is as permanent and concrete as the daily encounter of a community with its concert hall. It’s time to look at the subject more carefully and to ask questions about the things we mistake today as “given.”

The need for your help

With the help of the Seaside Institute as well as Seaside’s visionary founder Robert Davis, who has generously offered to match your donations, we have engaged filmmaker David Donnelly of Culture Monster to film the proceedings. We will make his film freely available for the benefit in perpetuity of everyone involved or just interested in this issue. We also thank David M. Schwarz Architects for their gracious sponsorship.

But to make this symposium a reality, we will need your help, too. We need to raise $10,000 to meet our budget of $22,000. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation that could make a lasting difference in the communities and the concert halls that will be standing long after we are gone.

For sponsorship opportunities, or if you would like to speak with us about being part of the conversation as a speaker at this event, please

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