We started as a music party.
In 2007, Canvas founders and new residents of Amsterdam Lynn Hutchinson and David Sheldon invited some neighbors into their home for an evening of wine and music.
That event became the first of many musical evenings in their home.
They took the opportunity to work together - musician and architect - to explore intersections between music, art and history. Fourteen people attended their first gathering. By the fifth event, Lynn and David were squeezing sixty people into the front room of their 400-year old canal house.
They named their rapidly-growing “baby” Canvas.
Now bearing a name, Canvas continued to be “a fine evening with music, wine and neighbors.” The subjects of these first Canvases were relatively tame: German Romanticism, French Impressionism, and a Short History of Rock and Roll. Each program was an opportunity to invite different Dutch musicians and experts into the spotlight and experiment with different visual inclusions such as photography, graphic design and film.
Canvas started reaching out to the community.
As their programs progressed in complexity and depth, Canvas wanted to make deeper connections not just in content, but with the world around them. Canvas expanded to commission new artwork and create international collaborations. They presented programs that included craftspeople and scientists, generated scholarships for young emerging musicians, and featured subjects that gave local non-profits a platform to share their work.
The Crown Jewel
Canvas tests all of its concepts in the open-space loft of its founders, called The Lab. Retrofitted with stage lighting and designed to be a flex-space capable of seating up to 100 people, The Lab received an unexpected and generous gift in 2012: a rebuilt 1887 Steinway grand piano, on long-term loan by a donor who believed in Canvas’s mission to introduce a new kind of programming.
Beyond its unparalleled visual beauty, the Steinway gives our world-class performers and appreciative Los Angeles audience unforgettable sounds and expressivity. In honor of receiving the Steinway, Canvas offered a Lab program that featured piano music by Rachmaninoff and an explanation by a renown Steinway rebuilder how grand pianos work.
Attention from the outside world earned a first commission
Canvas’s unique tribute to the music behind Jim Henson’s beloved Muppet characters - presented in The Lab with a string quartet and rhythm section - earned a commission to be developed into a full-length program for orchestra and youth choir. In a short span of time, Canvas’s original holiday show was requested by a corporate office as a gift to their partners and staff. And their program featuring music written by Dutch Jewish composers during World War 2 played to a sold-out audience of 600 at a synagogue, including four Holocaust survivors.
The concert series that began as a music party was becoming an experience that impacted listeners across the United States.
It was becoming increasingly clear that audiences love music and learning. Canvas made the commitment to bringing more educational music programming to the world outside of the Lab and became and, in 2018, became a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.
Twelve years, twenty-nine Lab shows and 1500 different audience members
Since its beginnings, Canvas has featured the artistry and work of over 100 musicians, composers, artists, historians, scientists and craftspeople. Programs have crossed genres, instrumentation and collaboration types.
Canvas will continue to develop and share music stories until a) the world runs out of them, or b) their curiosity runs dry. Whichever comes first.