Wanted: A latter-day royal patron for a pretty good horn player

by Gwendolyn Hoberg, Special to MPR
May 14, 2014

MOORHEAD, Minn. — I have a handful of dream jobs, and this is one of them: having my own, modern-day Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm or Esterhazy princes or Queen Anne. Those were the patrons of Wagner, Haydn, and Handel, respectively.

Surely there are still patrons today who support the existence of classical composers and performers, but it does seem more like a thing of the past. At any rate, I think I'd have quite a hard time finding a patron for a pretty good french horn player, not-bad arranger of brass music, formerly-decent-but-now-merely-adequate piano player, and skilled-at-sight-singing-but-largely-untrained-and-unpracticed alto — for myself, in other words.

But let's say I thought I had a real shot at this. If I were constructing a "music patron wanted" ad, I think it would look something like this:

Multi-faceted classical musician seeking patron in the tradition of Haydn/Esterhazy, etc. The possible components of our partnership include but are by no means limited to:

Going to concerts together

But of course I'll attend this weekend's Minnesota Orchestra concert with you! I'll mingle with you in the lobby during intermission, point out all the interesting bits in the program book, and rehash the performance with you over champagne back at your penthouse afterwards. Then tomorrow we can jet off to Chicago or San Francisco and do it all over again.

Background music at your parties

I can offer some wonderful variety here: the Bach cello suites for solo horn, simple but lovely folk songs on the piano, just-right selections from your CD collection piped through the speakers. Or I could get the gang together for some brass trio music at your larger, more boisterous gatherings.

Custom arrangements of your favorite songs

Dying to hear your favorite opera arias played by a horn choir? That can be arranged. (And she puns, too!) Or perhaps you'd like the latest Top 40 hit transcribed so that you can play along on your instrument of choice. I'll make a piano duet version, too, and we can plunk out "Pharrell's 'Happy' in the Style of Liszt" together whenever it suits you.

Enriching your legacy

Your patronage of my musical talents could be only the starting point, if you're willing to think big. Over time, we could bring other performers and composers into the fold and create a vibrant, far-reaching legacy of sponsorship. Let's face it: as important as they are, acts like donating resources to school music programs, starting foundations, and attending fundraising galas and silent auctions have become quite ho-hum. I can help you become the star of a new wave of support for the arts.

So, any takers? I'm not holding my breath, but as they say, a girl can dream.

Gwendolyn Hoberg is a classical musician and the owner of the editing and writing business Content & Contour. She lives in Moorhead, plays with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, and writes the Little Mouse fitness blog. She is also a co-author of The Walk Across North Dakota.

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