I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to provide some incidental and scene change music for my theatre colleague Joe Gill’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire for the past two weeks and it’s got me thinking a bit about the nature of collaboration. Musicians must be good at collaboration to some degree; ensemble playing requires collaboration in a section and across the ensemble, a soloist performing a recital has to collaborate with a pianist or some other accompaniment, even the act of conducting an ensemble is a collaborative effort. But having spent some time collaborating with my theatre colleague to provide some music for his play, I’m struck by the intimate and rich nature of collaboration across disciplines.

            Now to be honest, my role in this production was minimal and fairly in my wheelhouse of musical skills. I improvised some music to accompany specific sections of the play in order to highlight the drama and to cover scene changes. Joe expertly supplied the information that I needed to create the music and then gave some feedback after I performed it for the first time with the actors. But the richness of the experience came from talking with Joe about his artistic vision and then using my creativity and artistic skills to craft some music that met his vision. The reason that I found this so satisfying was the process of creativity with my colleague, and his feedback that what I was presenting was important and provided useful service to his production.

            This experience was satisfying because of this artistic give and take. Joe is a good friend and colleague and collaborating with him on this project was valuable because of the relationship that I’ve built with him over the past few years. As an artist, I find collaborative projects to be exciting because I’m always eager to work with imaginative people and find out as much as I can about their creative process. I’m looking forward to the next collaborative opportunity!

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