I think what Dr. Johnson said about writing is true of all the arts: “The aim of writing is to enable readers a little better to enjoy life or a little better to endure it.” The other thing that the arts can do is that they are the chief method of communicating with the dead. After all, Homer is dead, his society completely gone, and yet one can appreciate it. Without communication with the dead, a fully human life is not possible.
—W. H. Auden, 1971
Do you ever wish you could meet someone from the past?
Musicians and their audiences often wish to converse with composers because insight into the life and times of a composer can enhance the musical experience. Unfortunately, many of the composers of the classical repertoire that we prize are no longer with us — luckily, Salon Séance brings composers back to life!
Salon Séance is a concept concert which brings together an actor (who channels a composer from the past) with musicians performing curated repertoire. Together, they explore a question that is as relevant today as it was then—bringing the composer, the performer, and the audience into the same room.
Each of our projects focuses on a single composer who has left a considerable amount of writing besides their musical creations — essays, letters, lectures. The historian is responsible for the scholarly research and the musicians for the musical product of the composer. Their findings are shared in rehearsals through discussions on how various circumstances may have led to the composer’s musical message, and together we try to find a convincing interpretation of the works presented. The culminating presentation is interdisciplinary — combining music, theater, history, and literature.
Founded by Mari Lee and Simon Lee, Salon Séance has won several awards including Tarisio’s Young Artists Grants and Britten Pears Foundation’s Britten Award for its uniqueness and creativity. We aim to instill in people interest and curiosity for music by helping them develop a personal connection to the composer and the music.
. . . a musical experience needs three human beings at least. It requires a composer, a performer, and a listener; and unless these three take part together there is no musical experience . . . this holy triangle of composer, performer and listener.
—Benjamin Britten, 1964