May 15

Pitch Imperfect

In a Q&A, Emerald City Music's co-founder and executive director Andrew Goldstein discusses live classical music in the time of COVID-19.

Discover SLU: What is the new normal like for Emerald City Music? Are you offering virtual performances?

Andrew Goldstein: Like most businesses, Emerald City Music had to very quickly pivot our plans for the spring and attempt to piece things together in ways that can still serve our community. While we had to cancel or postpone all of our spring events, we still had a big hunger to bring music to our communities; especially knowing the powerful ways music can gather and heal a community in profound ways. We have begun to offer online events that gather our community and feature our artists in new ways. These events include artist interviews, listener call-in experiences, performance videos, and special insights. One of the unexpected fruits of this next experience is that our South Lake Union/Seattle listeners are now engaging with listeners from all over the world who are tuning in for our experiences as well.

DSLU: How have customers responded to the pivot?

AG: It’s been amazing to see our community step up to support Emerald City Music and the greater arts community in the Northwest. While we’re super excited to offer livestream events, these come with no financial benefit to Emerald City Music. They are simple ways to do what we love—gathering people around amazing music. With lost ticket revenues, it has been inspiring to see our community still support our organization with donations. Many have sent gifts to help sustain our nonprofit during this time, and amazing efforts like the SLU Chamber Fund and the Amazon Neighborhood Business Support Fund have similarly provided much needed support to keep Emerald City Music afloat. We are incredibly grateful for this outpouring of support from all corners of the community, and are making plans to continue to deliver great art; not in spite of the social distancing measures, but inspired by it to help us create and gather in new ways.

DSLU: What has this experience taught you?

AG: This experience of COVID-19 has taught us of the need to continue to innovate. There is still so much uncertainty about the future, and what our ability will be to gather and consume music together. This means that we have to get creative, adapt our business models, and distill down what matters most in our mission. We have great hope for the future, knowing that behind us is an entire community of caring and supportive individuals and local businesses.

DSLU: Do you have thoughts to share with other arts organizations facing difficult choices right now?

AG: Local arts writer Douglas McLennan wrote the most inspirational and clarifying article I’ve seen to date about the state of the arts through COVID-19. The outcry of artists whose work has totally discontinued is pushing arts organizations to get creative, rethink models, and try to think bigger. ECM, like many organizations, is not just hoping to return to how things were before COVID-19; we want to be part of the positive change that will result in our industry because of this crisis. We don’t yet have the answers at Emerald City Music, but we certainly hope what we do on our stage will be part of a bright future in the arts, full of innovative and forward-thinking ways of delivering the arts to a community that is very, very in need of beauty and connectivity right now.

Explore more about Emerald City Music and consider donating here.

Interview by Ethan Chung and photographs courtesy of Emerald City Music.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle