Crafting a community
Amy Cottingham curates an unexpected underground concert experience.
June 6 marked Amy Cottingham’s 68th Musicale since starting the event in April 2010.
You might find Amy Cottingham teaching music with the Tulsa Camerata; playing piano for the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra; playing solo for parties, receptions and weddings; or singing and accompanying fellow musician Annie Ellicott. But arguably, one of her dearer roles is organizer of the Musicale, one of the city’s most popular but under-the-radar events.
What’s a musicale? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word as “social entertainment with music as the leading feature.”
In this context, it’s a thoughtfully curated live music experience disguised as a house gathering.
The Musicale is a careful concoction: One part Tulsa-area professional musicians, another part local hobbyists, gathered together on a foundation of classical and jazz music.
Though the concert might take place in a home, a public venue or on the 41st floor at First Place Tower, guests are invited by email to bring food and drink, adding a comfortable charm.
By design, the event is at a different venue each time, so it relies on an email list and word of mouth, Cottingham explains.
“I normally have five to six different groups or performers featured,” she says. “Each group gets about 15 minutes to perform. I totally focus on variety.”
Performers have included middle-school fiddle champions and banjo performers, a female drumming group, African dancers, dancers from Tulsa Modern Movement, a comedian, rock bands and a bassoon quartet. Cottingham also presents an annual All New Music Musicale, featuring new music composed by professionals as well as students, to encourage original and experimental music performance.
The community response to this creative melting pot of a variety show has created a run of 68 concerts since April 2010.
“It exploded right from the beginning,” Cottingham says. “That’s how I knew I should keep doing it. I told a few friends, and the host told a few friends ... but word got out just within that one month. The second Musicale was absolutely packed. People were everywhere.”
Cottingham purposefully doesn’t advertise — and she doesn’t need to. Over 100 people typically attend. This no-ad approach adds a mysterious flair.
“There’s no website on purpose,” she says. “I feel like the right people come each time. If they are supposed to be there, they will find it.”
Her secret mission is to expose a diverse group of people to a diverse group of music.
“A lot of why I’m doing this is for the community,” she says. “The togetherness. So much of what I’m passionate about is mixing different people groups together that wouldn’t normally be together. And exposing people to music they normally wouldn’t know they even liked.”
The Musicale has taken on a life of its own with Cottingham as the wizard behind the curtain.
July’s Best Bets for Live Music
The O’Jays, The Joint
Originating in 1958 in Canton, Ohio, R & B/soul band The O’Jays have been releasing hits ever since. They’re perhaps most well known for the feel-good song “Love Train.” 8 p.m. Tickets start at $60. Visit www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com or call 918-384-ROCK.
Tears for Fears, Brady Theater
Classic rock band Tears for Fears’ nostalgic synth hits include “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Mad World.” Don’t miss your chance to catch the ’80s at the Brady. Doors open at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets starting at $39.50 by phone at 866-977-6849 or at www.protix.com.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Tulsa Performing Arts Center
This beloved Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is a colorful portrayal of the Bible story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis. Choose from six performances by Theatre Tulsa’s Broadway Bootcamp in the John H. Williams Theater of the PAC. 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday. Visit www.tulsaPAC.com or call 918-596-7111.