Concept to Concert: The Creative Journey

 A concert is over in a matter of minutes, yet months of work go into the design, development, and execution of a performance. And while you, our audience, are only with us for a short time, our goal is to leave you with a memorable and meaningful experience that stays with you long after you’ve gone home and resumed life as usual.

Where does it start? Initial concert concepts are born during spring season planning sessions with staff, musicians, board members and friends. Up to 50 diverse concepts are identified, and seeds of ideas start to take root. These ideas often are broad or general, and are further defined through a series of brainstorming meetings. Some of our most creative ideas come when we are relaxed, thinking outside the box while enjoying great beverages, or, as it often is in my case, while stuck in traffic on the way to or from work. A show can be built around: a title, “The Good, The Bad, and The Brass;” a theme or genre, such as Celtic or Christmas; or something seemingly unrelated to music, like “Pulse” or a Denver Brass road trip.

We approach each of these concepts from a multitude of angles in order to add different, thought-provoking dimensions to each production. To start, we think of every possible piece of music that could relate to the main theme. We then try to find personal connections to the theme, be it a family tradition or childhood experience. Additionally, we look at how the concept relates to today’s society and culture. This is especially apparent with shows that connect cross-generationally, such as our patriotic, holiday, and Celtic productions.

The next step involves piecing together all these elements into a polished, cohesive show. A significant amount of time is spent analyzing how music selections work together, examining the musical and emotional flow from piece to piece. We must strike a balance between fast and slow, gorgeous and somber, rhythmic and lyrical pieces. Once repertoire is finalized, program order is determined, keeping balance in mind as well as building momentum to the end.

The heart of every show is the music. Every individual piece lends itself to completing the broader vision of each production. Each storyline we have used over the past few seasons has happened as a result of strong music choices. It is our job as musicians and concert producers to find the story that needs to be told, tell it through music, and inspire audiences along the way. To enhance this tale, we turn to the technical aspects of production. Lighting decisions, use of photos, and special effects (fog machines) are all carefully considered, and choices are made to complement each piece, support the concert vision, and create the perfect ambiance. When all of this comes together, the result is an experience that is both evocative and spiritually restoring.

At DB Headquarters, we are constantly striving to create much more than “just a concert.” The amount of preparation each show requires is immense, and I’ll admit that some years it is really difficult to think about Christmas in October. Weeks of ongoing creative work take place to finely tune each aspect of the production – music, lighting, staging, and threading the entire package together. But this process is the most important and incredible part of what Denver Brass does, and it’s my favorite aspect of my job. The amount of innovation and energy we pour into a concert is immeasurable. And you know what? It’s fun to do. It’s worth it. And if we can stir your spirit and leave you inspired, then we accomplished what we set out to do.

Becky Wilson
Associate Director, Production Wizard & Puppet Master