The virtuosic talent of Gavin Warren

By Dan White – Special to the Sydenham Current

Joni and I had a great time at the end of May at the three concerts we were involved in.

We started out by helping Gavin Warren out with his latest (and final of the season) recital. That is where I will focus most of this column.

Gavin played four wonderful pieces for clarinet, three with Tiiu on piano and one accompanied by tuba.

In all four, his virtuosic talent was showcased and the audience was spellbound. Yet, at the end of the concert, despite playing brilliantly, Gavin was surprised by the small turnout.

It had nothing to do with the music in any way. It was the cavern where an audience should have been. Gavin relies on this series to create revenue to continue his training and development and reduce his student debt.

A very small but appreciative audience came out to witness the culmination of weeks of work. Gavin pondered what kept people from attending and that is the basis of this week’s column.

But first, on the day following the concert in Wallaceburg, Gavin and Tiiu performed in Chatham at the St Andrew’s, Saturdays at 7 series finale.

At this event, Gavin played Messager’s Solo de Concours (contest solo) (look it up on YouTube, it is spectacular) and there were around 400 people in the audience who witnessed his fingerings flying across his clarinet in true virtuosic fashion.

The audience spontaneously rose to their feet after his performance. As Devon Hansen made his way to the stage to conduct his choir, he stated, “How do I follow that?”

Devon is no musical slouch and his choir is excellent. The point was that Gavin achieved another level of performance.

So why did less than 25 people support his concert in Wallaceburg?

It’s not because he is completely unknown in this area. He has played 4 recitals since September 2023, has been introduced by Dave at each WCB concert, has been promoted by both Dave and myself in this column and by me on “Art of The Matter” the CK Arts and Culture Network’s monthly arts update on CKXS.

There are over 60 musicians in the WCB alone, many more around the community and lovers of music that you would hope are looking for opportunities to support musicians (over 600 showed up at WDSS gym just a few weeks before for the WCB concert).

So, what did Gavin miss in his promotion? The short answer: nothing.

I have been involved in performing arts for about 40 years now and I have promoted music concerts, community theatre shows, secondary school theatre, small improv shows, dinner theatre and the list goes on.

It is always a head-scratcher after a gig trying to figure out what makes audiences take the time to support local performing artists and why they don’t show.

As a performer my heart breaks for someone like Gavin.

I understand the hours and hours of preparation, the attention to every detail, the hours invested in developing and promoting a show only to have a couple dozen people in attendance.

It is devastating to an artist, yet you must perform for those few the same show you would do for a sold-out show. Believe me, that isn’t easy.

So, what is the solution?

A friend from Theatre Sarnia, let’s call him Darryl, recently posted this question, “Theatre friends, it recently came to my attention that my thoughts on this may not be the norm and I’d love to hear some input.

I don’t have any sort of expectation placed on my friends or family to come see a show that I’m a part of.

None. I would never hold it against someone or take it personally if they don’t come see my show.

I don’t know, the idea of placing this sort of expectation on the people close to me feels wrong, but I was recently told that I would probably be judged if ever I missed a show that a friend was in.

I’m very curious to hear other people’s opinions on this. Sometimes I’m just not interested in a show, don’t feel like going to a show, or don’t want to spend money on a ticket… so I don’t go, even though I know people in it. Is that wrong?”

Of course, it was on FB so there were opinions from all over the map. I understand Darryl’s position.

Sometimes a show is not your cup of tea, you are too busy, funds are low, the weather is too nice, crops need to be planted. However, the key is if you enjoy performing arts and especially if you are a performing artist of any calibre, make the effort on occasion.

Commit to attending a show, even a new experience once or twice a year to help sustain and grow the arts in your community.

If artists don’t support one another, who will? I am consistently amazed at the performers that promote the heck out of anything they are in because they completely understand that performing artists feed off of audiences.

Yet, those same people consistently elect not to make the effort to reciprocate that respect for local talent and effort.

While we want to encourage others to experience and appreciate the arts, it is on performing artists to set the example in supporting other supporting artists.

Before long, Gavin will be gone to bigger stages and you will have the opportunity to say, I saw him perform in an intimate setting at a church in Wallaceburg.

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