Recently I interviewed Naomi Woo, Assistant Conductor with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.  We talked about the real people behind the famous composers who lived one story above and below one another in their European apartments, and how they influenced each other in their writing.  Apparently, being influenced by our neighbor hasn’t changed over the last couple of centuries!

We also talked about her work as Music Director of Sistema Winnipeg, a free program for kids who want to study music, and a group of professional musicians and teachers who want to inspire social change. 

It reminds me of what is possibly the most important lesson I learned in graduate studies: as a musician, you always want to inspire others, but you also need to be inspired yourself. 

To see the work that someone like Naomi Woo does on the stage is inspiring.  She seems to shape the music, draw the story out of her fellow Symphony players, even command the audience’s emotions.  That power, together with her passion for the craft, is inspiring for us to see. 

But she also talked about the other players on stage supporting her, and making music with her.  I may be putting words in her mouth, but it sounds a lot like the players she’s talking about are inspiring her at the same time. 

Our role as arts advocates is so important. Educational programs like Sistema and our After School Art Program reach many people, and the experiences they offer travel with students and teachers throughout their whole lives.  To be able to provide programming like we do, putting kids in the same room as some of the best instructors in the region, inspiring them…and doing it at no cost?  Amazing.  To know that you’re encouraging kids to work hard, be confident, to strive to achieve their best?  That’s an incredible feeling.  I might even call it…inspiring.

All of this makes me wonder if those composers were influenced by each other, or secretly inspired by each other.

So, just like the composers Naomi talked about in our interview, that puts us, in a manner of speaking, in the middle.  And to see the work that we do with kids pay off – that is definitely inspiring from both sides. 

I have to say, I’m also impressed by the recent generosity of our gala guests, supporting programs like this, and directly or indirectly building community leaders out of our students, our audiences, and our supporters.  Who knows…maybe some of your neighbors noticed you supporting SAC this spring, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be inspired to follow suit. 

So where do I want to be?  Right in the middle, realizing my own potential, and drawing it out of those around me at the same time.

PS – here’s the interview.  Watch it, and you just might be inspired!

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