This is my 200th blog post! Here’s a photo of me playing for an invited audience recently in someone’s private home. I really like playing (and also going to hear) house concerts, which feel like a variant on the ‘salons’ of previous centuries.
Understandably, such house concerts are usually a money-free zone for all concerned. But since I enjoy playing in intimate settings, I’ve often wondered if I could set about creating more such concerts and even make income from them. From time to time I read about people in other fields who’ve done similar things. There are ‘private dining clubs’ where foodies gather to eat in private homes, their addresses kept secret until the last minute. Guests get to meet fellow foodies and eat well in a relaxed domestic setting, for less (or not more) than they’d pay in a restaurant, and the cook makes a reasonable profit. I’ve also read about a few musicians, though not in the classical world, who’ve set up ‘tours of people’s living-rooms’. One example is the Canadian singer Jane Siberry whose inventive approach to touring was the subject of a recent Globe and Mail feature.
But when I imagine setting up such a tour for myself, I can’t quite get my head round the potential problems (one of which is the piano). Once you start advertising your events or charging for tickets, you enter a different zone, one bristling with public liability issues. There’s also the important issue of privacy for the person hosting the concert. You’d want to have some control over who was allowed in to the house. But on the other hand you wouldn’t want to burden each host with the task of gathering up 30 acceptable customers. Is there a way round these problems?