Fortissimo—Matt Kelley Speaks

In late 2009, I was asked to serve on an audience development committee for The Phil. It was a great group, and resulted in an really successful program—Phil U. Also, though, at that first meeting—December 3, 2009 at the Dash-In, with Andrew Constantine, J.L. Nave, Jeff Hunsinger and Samantha Teter—I took a one-sheet describing a little something Nate and I had been dreaming about for awhile…the relatively insane idea that perhaps Fort Wayne’s ridiculously great orchestra would perform original music with some of Fort Wayne’s ridiculously great rock bands. And maybe there’d be a national twist to it, with a third band. I mean, it was a daydream. There’s no way something like that would happen. Right?

When I first joined the Philharmonic’s board, they said that concerts are usually planned and figured out a full 18 months in advance. 18 months?! I couldn’t believe it. If there’s one rule about bands, it’s that most bands are broken up in 18 months. Well, a year-and-a-half later…here we go.

I think there are two stories here: First off, it’s just going to be an incredibly terrific, wildly creative evening of music—from complex classical pieces to instrumental post-rock, from indie-folk to power-pop, all dropped in The Phil’s blender and shared as a one-of-a-kind, awesomely delicious and fun musical experience.
Secondly, what does it say about an artistic and cultural community that has the bravery and the sense of adventure to bring together two ends of the musical spectrum in Fort Wayne—our amazing Philharmonic and the original rock bands known for sweating it out at clubs like the Brass Rail—for a single concert? It says some amazing things, frankly. It’s an incredible statement about the progressive, collaborative spirit of artists, musicians—and all of us as fans, far and wide. A community that has events like this is the kind of community that I want to live in.

At first blush, Fortissimo seems to have come from nowhere. But realistically, it already has a track record of success: from The Phil’s sold out performance with Ben Folds (best friends and frequent tour mate of Clem Snide), to the arrangements and performance of Heather Headley’s concert with The Phil, to the adventurous programming and innovative presentations of the Constantine era, to the you-better-believe-local-bands-can-own-an-enormous-stage approach of Down the Line (an Embassy Theatre fundraiser originally concepted and curated by One Lucky Guitar)…Fortissimo embodies the best elements of each of those events, and then presents them in a single setting. Expect the incredible.

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