We have recently been having a very interesting discussion here at Astraios HQ. In our current location of Frisco, TX, where the arts scene is truly just beginning, the question has been raised: What is a professional artist? Astraios is proud that we only use professional musicians on our concerts, but what does that actually mean?
At first glance, the answer would seem simple. It’s someone who earns their living from their art form. However, that’s not necessarily the easy answer. Many artists work or have worked at other jobs to support their artistic “habit,” especially when first beginning their careers. Others would say a professional artist has degrees in their field. Not necessarily—we point to our host, Christopher Curtis, who earned his degrees in Philosophy before he made the jump to acting, and no one could deny that he is a professional artist.
It’s difficult to compare to other fields, where there aren’t amateur associations. You would never think that a pre-med student would do what an MD would; you would never want your high school science student (no matter how good!) to launch a rocket for NASA.
So let us tell you about our people. A few weekends ago we held a musician brain trust meeting with 9 of our local performers. Contained in that room were 19 music degrees (with two more graduate degrees in progress) and over 232 YEARS of musical training. 90% of the musicians on our full roster make 100% of their income from music—teaching, performance, and administration.
Most of us are musicians because we can’t help but love it, and it’s something we knew at a very young age.
Then there are the less definable qualities. Brian Zator suggests that a professional musician can take the audience to another place. Jenny Pickering offers that performing is what makes us feel the most complete. Ruth Ann points out that most career musicians will make insane sacrifices to make performances work, especially when they’re fresh out of school—working odd jobs unrelated to our music degrees, traveling many hours to play an orchestra concert with a good group that no one in their right mind would think was worth the trouble. Most of us are musicians because we can’t help but love it, and it’s something we knew at a very young age.
Since Frisco is still developing the local arts scene, and city leaders are working to find the best ways to do that, we have to be flexible and combine what our audiences are asking for with what is available in the city.
So at Astraios, we always work to make sure that our musicians are treated well, and always want to showcase their talents in the best ways possible. Since Frisco is still developing the local arts scene, and city leaders are working to find the best ways to do that, we have to be flexible and combine what our audiences are asking for with what is available in the city. Last year we had some venue headaches but we were ultimately granted permission to perform in the Frisco City Council Chambers. We are incredibly pleased that we have been given permission to return for our 2016-2017 season. We will also be partnering with the Frisco Library for the Lone Star Storytelling Festival in October; providing more Third Sunday performances for the Frisco Heritage Museum; and performing for 1500 Frisco ISD elementary students. We will welcome back clarinetist Jeremy Reynolds, feature the DFW Brass Quintet, and present harp duo ‘Better Than One.’ Dates will be announced in late summer!
Thanks to Jenny, Brian, Natasha, Claudia, Eric, Christopher, Daniel, Libby and Michael for their thoughts.