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Origin of Wisteria Ways House Concert Series

-how did it begin?

Taking a riff off the phrase that "It takes a village to raise a child"--so too, it takes a community to start a house concert series.

--By total luck and serendipity, a number of musicians live on the 300 block of 61st Street in north Oakland. In the mid-80's, one musician couple held some house concerts. At that time, my two children were very young, and I felt I had died and gone to heaven to be able to attend a concert, any concert, let alone on my very own block. I didn't know it but being able to attend these very local house concerts planted the first seed for starting the Wisteria Ways house Concert Series.

-I am fortunate to be the second owner of a lovely 1915 Craftsman home (which is situated on a generous yard). Consequently it is in pristine shape. I am profoundly grateful able to be living here-(32 years now and counting!) There is so much beauty and space, that I want to be able to share it, as a community resource.

-I have an intense job which I thoroughly enjoy. Since our culture does not have the European vacation model (a minimum of 6 weeks off), I feel constrained in the PTO department. Loving to travel to gain the perspective of others, I figured that if I can't get out as often as I like, then flip the model on its head, and bring the world into my home.

- I'm a member of Daniel Steinberg's World Harmony Chorus. Daniel has his own house concert series in Mountain View and graciously agreed to come visit my home (early June 2001) even before I joined the chorus. Serving as mentor, Daniel imparted many conceptual and workflow details of how to run a house concert series. Other bottomline priorities needed attention and so it was 5 years between the time of Daniel's visit and the opening of Wisteria Ways doors.

Here are some transition pieces that occurred during those five years. Pivotal was my musician neighbor, David Morris, who in the spirit of community service, offered to have his baroque classical group play here on the condition that it would be a fund raiser. Through my friend Lisa Tracy, I contacted One World Children's fund. Putting on this very successful concert was a "proof of principal"—setting in place "house concert fundamentals", and gave me full permission to move forward with a series. Subsequently I went on to host two book-author readings-one for Oberlin College and one a fund raiser for Alameda County library. I am grateful to Kathleen Westine and George Davis, who are the presenters of the near-by Florio St concerts series-for lending me chairs for these events.

At this point, I knew that opening an official series was within reach. Many steps were involved, including starting to monitor an on-line listserve that caters to house concert presenters (HouseConcert@yahoogroups.com) where I gained fine-tuning tips, and purchasing a set of folding chairs. (thank you Craig's list for your existence). The last two steps were hiring an extremely talented web designer , Jean Russell, (yeah!) formerly of SpinOrb, and putting protective overhead netting over the outside deck (E.G.)-to protect the band from the blazing sun during outdoor concerts.

List serve monitoring made me aware of the incredibly talented band, TAARKA, who were and are amenable to performing house concerts. I contacted them and to my utter surprise and amazement, within a month or two, they responded positively. Wisteria Ways formally opened August 25th, 2006 with TAARKA and 75 folks in attendance -lawn chairs and picnics in hand, since this was an outside event. Fortunately other extremely talented musician groups soon followed.

As it turns out, Daniel Steinberg and I have similar musical tastes and occasionally "share" musical groups by sponsoring "sister" concerts-one on the peninsula and one in Oakland. Examples so far: The Harmony Sisters and the Swedish group, Grannar

--Music been an active part of my life since the 2nd grade when I became obsessed with playing a toy clarinet, managing to wear out the keys so that it could only play one tune, Good-night Ladies. I later studied flute, and played in various classical groups through college. I first discovered "World Music" in the early 1980's by listening to KPFA's morning shows. I'm still very much taken with the richness of this genre and look forward to uncovering, at least to me, heretofore undiscovered gems.

I'm amazed at how quickly this concert series has gained momentum. I'm grateful to the musicians and to the community, to have the opportunity to bring the two together.

See you at an upcoming concert!

Anne W. Emerick, presenter of Wisteria Ways House Concert Series




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