Make No Little Plans

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.

I’ve decided to take this famous quote from Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) to heart.

For too long, this ensemble has been built on little plans. Mostly, the plan has been to wait by the phone for some arts organization to call, inquiring about fees or offering a performance. This has not proved a productive way to get lots of performance opportunities. When a performance has arisen, I’ve scrambled to pull together some repertoire and assemble a cast of players (drawing on a group of familiars).

While I’ve been basically satisfied with the results, it’s not the ultimate goal.

I hesitate to state the true ultimate goal, for fear of sounding insanely over ambitious, but maybe in a future post.

Back to the subject at hand: bigger plans! I have decided that I need to prepare a program that is ambitious and interesting, in advance of any planned performance. I need to find the players that can execute it, and then schedule several performances, as a goal or target. And then work like the dickens to make a great show of it. And really, I’d like to record the result and make it available for sale.

(I’ve spent a fair amount of time at this, with not a whole lot to show for it. A recording would be handsome documentary evidence of the work I’ve done.)

And I want to pick ambitious, challenging and interesting repertoire for this endeavor. At the moment, I am trying to decide between two pieces as the anchor for the performance:

There is a third possibility, Bjorn Berkhout’s Rise, which we have performed in the past, but I feel a need to acknowledge some of the ‘history’ of the double bass quartet.

The program would be rounded out with some lighter fare, probably one of Tony Osborne‘s recent compositions, perhaps some transcriptions.

Or perhaps there is some epic work for bass quartet that I’m not aware of.

I would love to hear what you think in the comments. Which is the work more in need of a current playing? Which would you rather hear, or buy a copy of? (And if you’re a member of the strings subgroup of the Professional Musician’s Network on LinkedIn, I’ve created a poll there asking the same question.)



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12 Responses to “Make No Little Plans”

  1. Laurent du Boullay says:

    Good morning,

    Bravo for this nexw plan. A reord appears to be an excellent idea !

    We do not know the comosers you mention. We will be pleased to buy the fututre CD of the Chicago Bass Ensemble.

    Regards to the whole family, J et L

  2. Jacque –

    BRAVO! Amazing idea – there must be something going around in the ether because this is pretty much what Stardreamers is doing in its latest incarnation. Instead of sitting & waiting & wishing, we’re creating the kind of program we want with who’s available and “with us” and then we’ll take it on the road.

    So, kudos to you & your group. I don’t know the music you’re referring to, but I assume I can find it on YouTube or elsewhere, so I’ll check it out and let you know. Best of luck in your new direction!


  3. Marv Berman says:

    I think the proto work is more interesting. I also like the Bass quartet Beatles arrangements.
    Dr. Marv Berman

  4. Esther says:

    Cool! I don’t know the music of Proto, but I’m going to vote for him anyway. Sounds guaranteed to be a bit theatrical and refreshing. 🙂

  5. Kim Diehnelt says:

    I’d go with Bjorn Berkhout’s Rise and focus on where the bass quartet is going.

    BB’s compositions are fresh, yet no one would be scared of the future!

    Bringing the bass into today’s sound palate would be my priority. There are lots of old cliches that cling to the instrument.

    Have fun with this!!!

    • Jacque Harper says:

      Kim: Thanks for the thoughts — definitely want to look forward as well. We played Rise several times in performances a few years ago. I don’t want to risk wearing it out, but on the other hand that was a few years ago. I’ll definitely keep it on the list!

  6. Joan BArksdale says:

    Are you kidding me??? I applaud the ambition, though. Always include the Beatles. Joan

  7. Brigitte Desouches says:

    Could not advance any opinion about the music, but am all for big plans for the Chicago Bass Ensemble. CD is a great idea and I am a buyer. Cheers! Brigitte

  8. Jerry says:

    Some of my friends are for the Schuller and some of my friends are for the Proto–I’m for my friends. 🙂

    • Jacque Harper says:

      Jerry: That’s awesome . . . now, how can I get those friends to express their opinions here?! And how many are there?

  9. Brian Neale says:

    Alas, I fear I am wholly unqualified to register an opinion. For me, better to just show up for a performance and be awed.

  10. Tom Desouches says:

    First of all, a quote in answer to quote: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Secondly, having briefly read through the scores (cough.. cough..; ok, I mean listened to excerpts on the web..), I vote for Proto. I do this out of concern for your extensor tendons 😉

    Finally, please send details how to purchase the recording..!

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