Kari Besharse

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My biggest composition this year…

For the past few months I have been working feverishly on a huge “composition” project. Undoubtedly, it has been a time-sucking black hole, but one that has generated much excitement and many possibilities for the future. Learning how to construct and problem-solve for this project has been pretty absorbing – sometimes in a good “I’m fascinated” way and other times in an obsessive “how is this ever going to work” way. This huge project is still a work in progress, and always will be. It’s like a huge shape-shifting monster, with its own microbial colony always changing the game beneath the surface. The project I am referring to is Versipel New Music, an organization built from the ground up by Philip and I. We had been contemplating creating an organization like this for several years, and have poured over the questions and problems that doing something like this would entail. At the heart of the problem, we had moved to a place where contemporary classical music hardly seemed to exist. The rare offerings that did exist seemed rare, small and ancillary, never really reaching beyond the token presentation of a new work. We started to brainstorm on ways that we could push new music more into the forefront of the New Orleans concert music scene. We created Versipel to be a multi-tiered organization. We structured it to tackle the challenges we perceived in presenting new classical music in our area. We created a visiting artist series which will bring in top-level new music specialists from all over the place to perform works that they personally believe strongly in. In collaboration with several universities in the area, these performers will frequently interact with students through workshops, masterclasses and occasionally, perform with them. Secondly, the heart of Versipel New Music is The Versipel Collective – a collective of local musicians who will present several types of concerts, thereby nurturing our local performance scene (see our 2014-2015 schedule!). The Versipel Collective also has composer members who are the workhorses of our organization, organizing shows, applying for grants, schlepping gear, and sometimes performing on our shows. Our organization also serves to help promote their music. Most importantly, this collective serves the purpose of building a community of musicians who can share knowledge, ideas and grow over time. So what was the final straw in taking the plunge to start this group? Honestly, it was feeling that I have no control over any aspect of my life. Maybe this isn’t P.C. to bring up in a “business” site, but for me, all of this is very personal. I have many altruistic reasons for starting Versipel as well – I really want to raise the profile of new music in the New Orleans area. A concert music scene that has an organization dedicated to presenting new music will make the entire music scene in New Orleans more robust. It will also make for a healthier environment for the many composers in the area. I want Versipel will help bridge the gaps between different audiences and styles in the multifaceted New Orleans music and art scene. So, please check out our page. If you’re local, come to our shows. We also have a call for scores up, that anyone (regardless of age or nationality) can submit to. Last but not least, we are a new organization. In order to get our organization started, we have launched an Indiegogo campaign! Please check it out and support this exciting endeavor! Watch our fundraising video: