With a professional music career spanning nearly twenty years, Ben Folds has etched his name in rock ‘n’ roll and earned the right to lose the sales pitch and get right to his opinions. ...Ben’s business is different and he’s assembled a team that strikes a healthy balance with a smart focus on the value of music as an educator, healer, connector, and enhancer. “Because I work with people who are all really interested in helping people, we leverage a lot of energy toward these things. I use my quasi-celebrity status where I can,” he says with self-awareness.
...Hustling for a donation and carrying the flag for the Schermerhorn Symphony are not typical rock star behaviors, but Ben doesn’t ascribe to any predestined, rock star life. Sure, he has his wayward moments, but his path is uniquely his own, and he’s cultivating an existence of musical sustenance on a new level. His time donated equates to time returned, with every minute a high-value investment. He looks at this system as a “second economy,” and he is ardent that everyone can exist on this fundamental principle.
...Like Ben and his Keys to Music City fundraiser, you are tasked with offering a life-saving breath when the artistic heartbeat of the community threatens to flatline. There are plenty of cities that produce music, but no other city lives on it. Nashville draws musicians in and gives them a permanent address.
...Ben is taking full advantage of our fine orchestra with the still-under-wraps concerto he is writing. Working with the Nashville Ballet, he began creating an instrumental piece that, in Ben’s words, “blew up.” The Symphony is now part of the commission with the full debut taking place in Nashville this coming March. The piece may be better described as a tone-poem written in concerto form, but the focus is all on the quality of the music.
“I’m not trying to get an ‘A’ in composition,” Ben admits, “I really have to put that out of my head and make a piece that I thought was the reason that I make music.” With only a handful of months to go and a composer’s salary, Ben is putting his time where is mouth is, but he seems to enjoy the challenge. “It’s a lot of work… and it’s hard,” he laughs. Look for music videos and an eighteen-month tour to accompany the launch.
Read more in the December 2013 issue of Native, the print magazine featuring the people making Nashville awesomer.
Photo credits: Joshua Black Wilkins