…if we don’t give back and get active in our community, then classical music is not going to survive. We have to support our craft and our generation. -Evan Ritter
What do you get when two close friends join forces to make a difference through music? A talented duo dedicated to sharing their passion throughout the community! Over the past year, pianist Evan Ritter (Show #227) and violist Isabella Markham (Show #206) have been inspiring hundreds across Dallas with their shared love for music. Visiting everywhere from retirement homes to charity events, these two have no plan to stop!
We spoke with Evan, and he shared the following about his own experiences with these events…
FTT: How did you and Bella become so involved in the Dallas community?
Evan: We had been performing at a number of places, and just started to get all of these other opportunities. Forexample, we were asked to perform at Edgemere, then a friend of my mom’s was like, “Oh, you should come play for this fundraiser…”It didn’t really start as us trying to do something huge – the core idea was to play for people who don’t have the opportunity to go out and see a concert. For the retirement homes specifically, it’s a really easy thing to do – these are people who love kids, and they love music, so it’s just a win-win for everybody.
FTT: What is it like performing for these events with one of your best friends?
Evan: The thing with Bella and me is that we’ve been playing together for so long, it’s really a different gravity. I don’t really get nervous when I play with her, and I don’t think she does – it’s a different kind of performance.
FTT: What were some memorable moments for you?
Evan: There were quite a few, but most memorable were the people in the retirement homes – they are so free and open with their emotions, that they don’t hold anything back. The elderly people would come up and sit right next to us – just stand up enjoying and connecting with the music…Some people would just put their hand on my shoulder, while I was playing; others would just start singing along. We gave them something they don’t get very often, we gave them music – we were just playing for them, and we were enjoying it and they were enjoying it.
FTT: As a musician, what did you take away from these experiences?
Evan: As a musician you are constantly learning and growing. What I learned is that it’s never about the venue, or where you play or for whom you are playing. The only important thing is that you enjoy what you’re doing and share it with other people. Most musicians feel they have to play these high-end recitals, and get their name out there. At the end of the day, you should just be sharing what it is you like to do. It helped me put things into perspective.
FTT: What advice would you give to other young musicians wanting to reach out in their communities?
Evan: When I started this process, and heard about all these other kids doing things to make a difference, it’s really easy to be like, “I want to do something REALLY big and unusual that impacts a large amount of people.” But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t do it for yourself – you do it because it’s what you enjoy doing, and to connect with others.
FTT: What impact, in general, do you believe these concerts have had on the community?
Evan: Each individual concert had an impact on different levels – there is the primary level, connecting with music. But then there are levels on top of that, like connecting with people as individuals, or connecting with what we were doing. Classical music affects people’s lives in a positive way; it is relaxing and enjoyable. We just wanted to make people happy – you shouldn’t be in classical music if you don’t want this. In this rising generation of classical musicians, if we don’t give back and get active in our community, then classical music is not going to survive. We have to support our craft and our generation.
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