A message to potential hosts:
Twelve years ago, Canvas founders and new residents of Amsterdam Lynn Hutchinson and David Sheldon welcomed fourteen neighbors into their home for an evening of wine and music - reaching out to their community in the most genuine way they knew.
That event became the first of many musical evenings in their home. The audience grew quickly, soon squeezing crowds of over 60 people into their 400-year old canal house. They took the opportunity to work together - architect and musician - to feature collaborations between music, art and history.
They named their “baby” Canvas.
The programs progressed at the pace of their curiosity. Canvas expanded to commission new art, featured subjects that gave local non-profits a platform to share their work, crafted virtual international collaborations, expanded collaborative reach to include craftspeople and scientists, and created scholarships for young emerging musicians.
In the midst of this fantastic journey, they stumbled onto the inspiration for what would become their most significant project.
While still living in Amsterdam, they discovered their home had been a place of resistance during World War 2.
Their landlord’s parents had created false documents, stashed weaponry, and hid Jews in what was then Lynn’s music studio, attempting to escape Nazi capture.
This revelation would have an irreversible impact on Lynn, David and Canvas. It was clear that the next Canvas program needed to feature this history.
After months of research and acquiring assets, Canvas premiered an original memorial film with live score, called Meeting the Ghosts.
A few years later, after Ms. Hutchinson and Mr. Sheldon moved back to Los Angeles, Meeting the Ghosts made its US premiere. But this time, thanks to incredible discoveries made in the years since the debut of the first version, the program included pieces by four Dutch Jewish composers who perished in the Holocaust.
(To give some perspective, the discovery of these “lost” pieces was decades in the making. In many cases, Jewish composers - upon going into hiding - would pass on their scores to non-Jewish friends or neighbors for safe keeping. Most of Holland’s Jewish population died in the Holocaust, making orphans of the music left behind. In the last twenty years, musicologists have made tremendous strides in connecting pieces to composers. The next step is to get the pieces performed or recorded as often as possible - a tough proposition when the music is unknown to audiences.)
Canvas gave the American premiere of four of these “lost” pieces.
Word about the project spread quickly. Canvas was asked by a large synagogue in Denver to bring the program to their community. Following a very successful fundraising effort, Meeting the Ghosts played to a sold-out audience of 600 people, including four Holocaust survivors. The program also raised an additional $15,000 for education programs at the synagogue.
While in Denver, Ms. Hutchinson provided educational outreach to local schools, telling the compelling stories of underground music-making to nearly a thousand students and educators.
From this experience, Meeting the Ghosts earned a very special place in the hearts of its audience. Requests for Meeting the Ghosts started to pour in from across the United States.
Wanting to fulfill these requests, Ms. Hutchinson explored improving the project. She believed that this story presented in a live concert setting - if done at the highest level of quality, artistry and accessibility - could be extremely impacting.
Putting other offers on hold, Ms. Hutchinson dedicated a year researching and re-writing.
Meeting the Ghosts was performed in front of a focus group of Hollywood producers, writers and directors. She spoke with historians and authors. Surveyed devoted Canvas audiences. Identified elements of storyline that resonate strongly with viewers. Worked with Dutch music preservation societies. Analyzed presentation styles that would might resonate better with millennials.
And now, Canvas is making public their plans:
Meeting the Ghosts is a 70-minute multimedia program for full orchestra - highlighting soloists on violin, cello, clarinet, harp, accordion and piano. Through animation, voice-overs, film, photographs and the live performance of pieces written by Dutch Jews suppressed by the Holocaust, audiences are invited into a lost time in a city occupied by villains, heroes and innocents. Meeting the Ghosts introduces nine gifted musicians living in Amsterdam, and how their dreams of pursuing a life of expression came to an abrupt end under the oppressive German Occupation of the Netherlands from 1940-1945.
The budget for completing new content is $150,000.
Canvas Presents is seeking funding through grants and sponsorships. All other programming is on hold until the money is raised and Meeting the Ghosts is reaching audiences in the United States and abroad.
Until that goal is met, Canvas Presents remains dedicated to telling these stories and giving audiences the experience of hearing “lost pieces” performed live.
As a grassroots operation, we like trying new things.
We are nimble and pro-active. So, in the spirit that Canvas Presents began - as a small group of people sharing music and ideas - Ms. Hutchinson is looking to embark on a national tour to share these stories. The performance includes stories of the Dutch musicians, performance of select “lost” pieces, and the background history of this project, ending in a discussion about what influence history should / could have on challenges we face today.
The goal for the tour is to bring the stories to light and meet individuals who resonate with this project - intellectually, financially, or both.
Canvas is currently seeking community-oriented people in metropolitan areas across the nation to host an intimate (15+ people) performance.
As someone known to support arts and education in your area, we are reaching out to you.
The ironic truth of “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.”
We assume you are busy with valuable commitments both at work and at home. That said, should you be interested in being a part of this movement, we want to provide you with every possible tool to make it happen:
Marketing Checklist / Timeline
Communications Checklist / Timeline
Space Preparation Checklist / Timeline
Letter to potential attenders introducing the project and explaining the event
Streamlined ticketing with restricted access through our website
You need to provide:
A performance space. This could be many things: your home, your friend’s home, your office after hours, a library nearby, your place of worship, a small theater.
A piano. We realize that not everyone has access to a space with a piano in it. But we believe that, with a little ingenuity, every obstacle can be overcome. Consider piano rentals, using a space that already has a piano, or - if an acoustic piano really isn’t feasible - finding a full-size (88 key) weighted keyboard to use for a day.
An audience. We are looking for audiences of at least fifteen people. If there is anyone in your world who is particularly passionate about history, the Holocaust, classical music, or anti-prejudice movements, please invite them.
An event. Your stop on our tour can be as elaborate or casual as you wish. If wine and caviar is what your community loves and it fits your personal budget, by all means, do it. If a bag of Cheetos with a side of Pepsi is more your thing, do it. Or if you don’t want to offer food at all, that’s fine. You know your people best. If we’re reaching out to you, we know that you are an influencer. So you do you. We’ll follow your lead.
Still not convinced?
Please talk to us about what’s keeping you from saying “yes.” There is a good chance we can be flexible and figure out something that works.
Still STILL not convinced?
Hosts will receive a tax-deductible receipt for their efforts / expenses.