San Francisco Chronicle
Baroque ensemble brings in new voice
“As a Black bassbaritone known primarily for new music, that seemed to be a nonstarter.”
Tines is no stranger to the traditional European classical repertoire, both as a singer and a former professional violinist. But much of his artistic work has involved reinterpreting those traditions through a contemporary lens, and he was leery at first of forging a relationship with Philharmonia.
“A Baroque orchestra is almost a caricatured bastion of Western society and culture, which has been detrimental to minorities,” he said. “So what would it mean for me to be a figurehead of an organization playing the music of the monarchy?”
Instead, Tines came back with a counterproposal — to take a year to probe as deeply as he could into the cultural, financial and artistic possibilities of such an organization.
The resulting arrangement, as he describes it, consists of three segments. One involves performance, including a series of recital programs he’s devised that combine Bach, spirituals and contemporary music by such composers as Tyshawn Sorey and Caroline Shaw.
A second piece, which draws on his undergraduate training in sociology, will entail what he calls a “semiscientific experiment” using detailed audience outreach to create a new vision of the organization’s goals.
Finally, he plans to be steeply involved in the organizational work, attending every board meeting and having full access to the administrative process.
“Davóne has an exceptional story to tell, about trying to understand what makes organizations tick,” Beck said. “It’s something that major artists rarely get a chance to see. How do we market? How do we raise money? How do we think about programming?
“We decided to expose everything about who and what we are — warts and all. I can’t think of anyone better to do that with.”