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 Lab received an unexpected gift
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 a generous upgrade 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.
This instrument is the Crown Jewel of The Lab. Beyond its unparalleled visual beauty, it gives our world-class performers and appreciative Los Angeles audience unforgettable sounds and expressivity.
Canvas accepted their first commission and brought their programming to the outside world
Canvas’s original programming started getting attention from the outside world. Their 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.
It was becoming increasingly clear that audiences love music and learning. The concert series that began as a music party was becoming an experience that impacted listeners across the United States.
Canvas became a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization status in 2018
Officially recognized as an educational arts organization,
We’ve been telling music stories
Since its beginnings as a music party in 2007, Canvas has presented twenty-nine unique Lab shows to 1500 different audience members. They have featured the artistry and work of over 100 musicians, composers, artists, historians, scientists and craftspeople. Programs have crossed genres, instrumentation and collaboration types.
Out in the world, Canvas programs have been presented in theaters, schools and places of worship.
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.