From the Orchestra Library

Make Room for the Music

Posted in Library Life,Library Supplies and Equipment by kschnack on September 3, 2010

That can't be a copier.....

Somehow it seemed appropriate to jump back into the blog at the end of a crazy summer with this particular photo. Because it pretty much illustrates how things have been here in North Texas for the past couple of months: 105+ degree temperatures for a bunch of days, no rain, and lots of music to prepare for the start of another season. A little slice of heaven!

This is our dear friend and colleague Shannon Highland,  librarian for the opera, whom you have met in a previous post. She comes over and helps us out in the summers, and for that we are very grateful. In the past couple of months she helped us slog through marking several new sets of standard rep for our Music Director’s upcoming programs, as well as handled numerous other projects. The photo shows her back at work in her own library, clearly trying to make do with a less-than-optimal setup. (Getting enough resources and equipment in our libraries to help us do our jobs properly is often very trying, and it’s rare that we are equipped well enough, being non-profits and all. It’s hard to convince managers that buying a piece of equipment isn’t throwing away money; often buying new equipment saves money over a bit of time.)

As you can see, there isn’t much room dedicated to the opera’s orchestra library which is in their rehearsal center —  a few tables, shared space with another worker and the percussion cage, and some kind of Mars robot sent in to gather data from the looks of it. Actually, that is the portable air conditioning unit the opera used to cool down its projectors during the Moby Dick premiere. It’s nice to see it was keeping Shannon from sweltering down there during the hottest days of the year. Preparing Don Giovanni has enough challenges without having to literally sweat it out.

It’s unfortunate that the new Winspear Opera House, part of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, does not have a dedicated space for the opera librarian to work or storage for the orchestral and vocal materials. In other words, No Library. Instead, Shannon has to bring all the music over for productions and then claim one of the small studios as a temporary work space during the run of each opera. Why is it that millions of dollars can be spent on these spectacular performance venues and one of the most fundamental needs of the operation is just overlooked? Or, more to the point, why isn’t the priority of the Opera House actually producing Opera by the fine resident Opera Company?

Such  questions won’t be answered today for sure, but I do wish and hope for a time when the experienced workers are consulted before grand edifices are erected, and specs given by those professionals are followed during the design and building process. An Opera House without a place for The Music? Wow.

I hope you all have had a great summer and feel ready to start the new season with enthusiasm and energy. Now that the temps in Dallas have plunged to the low 90’s, the word “fall” might start to emerge from the recesses of our memories. Before we know it, the end of 2010 will be nigh.

But there is much music to make before then!


2 Responses to 'Make Room for the Music'

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  1. Bill said,

    I have no inside knowledge about the Winspear, but in having discussions with Inner Circle staff and staff of the ATT Perf Arts Center, I get the distinct impression that the House staff regards the Opera as a “tenant” and, as such, a secondary concern……. perhaps this attitude prevailed when deciding if there could be a dedicated Opera company library.


  2. kschnack said,

    I think you are probably right, Bill. I doubt the opera folks had much say over any of that, despite their best efforts. It’s just too bad. But it isn’t the first time that type of thing has happened in a new venue, and it surely won’t be the last!

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