Lynn-Jane Foreman is an English-American actress working in film, television, and on stage. As a patron and wearer of Ivey Abitz designs, she is generously sharing her thoughts for Ivey Abitz Voices about art during hard times, particularly whilst traveling on tour this spring as a guest artist and narrator with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Lynn-Jane’s tour began at the Kennedy Center, and her favourite Ivey Abitz design, the Solomon Jacket, was featured onstage at this very special event. Other Ivey Abitz designs toured along with her as the group of artists traveled their way through West Virginia mountains, taking art to communities and schools that don’t have access to cultural events.
She reveals the less-than-glamourous events of life as a touring artist. She shares her thoughts about the importance of art in everyday life and what it means to share art with depressed areas of the country.
Since many of our readers are artists, Lynn-Jane’s words have extra special meaning; she is an artist writing to artists about art. We at Ivey Abitz thank her deeply for sharing with us.
– Cynthia Ivey Abitz
By Lynn-Jane Foreman, Washington, D.C.
I was the guest artist for the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) at the Kennedy Center, and Ivey Abitz should be proud to know that they were represented at the evening show, featuring the Solomon Jacket.
After the Kennedy Center performance, I began traveling with the NSO as a guest artist. It has been clear to me for many years how difficult these tours are and how much work goes into planning them. I am playing a small part in these concerts, so I have an “insider” view of touring – and this is only a domestic tour! No wonder so many of the musicians find touring so hard. Arrive at 12 a.m. after a concert to a new hotel, cannot find your keys, room, or suitcase, and then someone always misses one of the 3 buses or gets sick. AND cell phones do not seem to work up here in the mountains! This is a very typical day… there are always glitches with rooms, noise, instruments, suitcases, etc. BUT since my husband and I drove (along with others), it was a bit easier on us.
Yesterday, we drove from Morgantown to Roanoke, West Virginia. A long windy ride (yea, Dramamine). We are at a beautiful resort on yet another river. Deer and wildlife all over…. but not anything is nearby, which makes many of the musicians antsy (not that they have a lot of free time) as they came on the buses from the Kennedy Center… about 15 or so musicians drove, as W.Va. is so close.
This hotel is centrally located so that the music outreach programs to the schools are fairly accessible. This morning at 7:30 AM, we drove to Philiipi where we had the first concert, which began at 9:30. It took us an hour to get there (again, beautiful, but hard for someone who gets carsick.) The Dramamine made me so sleepy, I wondered if I would remember what I was to do…
There were 400 children there, K-1st grade. Bussed in from all over. Absolute quiet and well-behaved. Over 90% of the children had never heard live music before. Some of the band members at the local high school acted as our stage crew, as the NSO crew cannot go on all of the outreach programs. For example, there were 12 programs today alone.
The thoughts that occurred to me were many. These children are so eager for art and yet so isolated. They looked at the instruments on the internet beforehand so that the teachers could explain what a violin or bassoon was, or classical music, or the “places” we visited in the story of the program. There were 2 deaf children in the audience, and we let them sit on the stage so they could feel the music vibrations. They also had an interpreter.
This is a very depressed area without resources, and they treated us like “heroes.” They gave us box lunches for the journey back to the hotel. They had water, coffee, and tea backstage for us. They thanked us thousands of times and asked us to please come back. The children were enchanted. We ended up staying a bit longer to talk to them and to show them the instruments. Some of them had traveled 2 hours to hear us.
We performed in the high school auditorium; little lighting, only 3 mics, yet it was PERFECT. My husband and I drove home through very depressed country….lots of substandard housing, etc. I kept wondering who lived in those trailers and what their lives were like. (Actors are like that, trying to get into someone else’s skin.) My husband was also astounded at some of what we saw, and we are not “unseeing people.” How do they make money? Where do they get food? Medical care? Unemployment? How can we deny our citizens social programs? I know, I know, a social monarchist.
Being fairly informed about social issues, I wondered so much about what I saw… perhaps I really have been protected. I was quite moved by the children and seeing this part of the USA.
to be continued…