Prizm’s “Music for Dummies” 

Is there anything you've always wanted to know about classical music but have been too embarrassed to ask? Like, "What's going on in the mind of a musician while he or she is playing?" Or, "Trombones, what's up with that?" Don't worry, we've all been there. And chances are high that these hot topics will be thoroughly covered in a special program called "Music for Dummies," a special blend of classical music and comedy developed by members of Memphis' Prizm Ensemble, as part of the ambitious group's annual International Chamber Music Festival.

This week, the Prizm Ensemble will host a series of evening concerts at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church, featuring musical guest artists from around the world. Most of these concerts are of the traditional variety and relatively serious business. But on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., following a student concert, bassoon player Lecolion Washington, flute player Alice Dade, and viola player/overtone singer Gareth Lubbe will introduce their guests to the lighter side of classical music.

click to enlarge Lecolion Washington
  • Lecolion Washington

"Nobody is funnier than a musician," says Washington, who worked as a standup comedian in New York and Austin and who came up with the idea for "Music for Dummies" while teaching at a classical music festival in South Africa. "Alice is also a standup comedian," Washington says. "And Gareth, he's just a really funny guy."

click to enlarge Gareth Lubbe
  • Gareth Lubbe

The idea, Washington says, is to use a mix of music, standup comedy, and improv games to explore the culture of classical performance.

"We have one piece called 'Inside the Mind of a Musician,'" Washington explains, "where one performer plays a piece of music while we narrate what's actually going on inside his head. And we're going to talk a little bit about what happens backstage."

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