Great art music must be lived, not simply admired from afar. Music can be much more for audiences than a badge of cultural consumption. And it can be more for performers than a job or a skill to be mastered. Music can change the world.
During her time in academia, Jaemi has realized that orchestras have a special role to play in building a more inclusive world. With some deliberate community-building work both amongst the players and with the audience, an orchestra can become an environment that is genuinely welcoming to all and gives everyone the opportunity to fall in love with symphonic music. Bringing great music into people’s lives cannot be simply a matter of providing a product and hoping it is consumed. Instead, Jaemi works to purposefully create diverse, inclusive orchestras that offer players and audiences a voice in the great conversation that is music making.
One of Jaemi’s greatest strengths is her ability to recruit good people to join the exciting projects she creates. Having always had an entrepreneurial streak, she has been organizing performances and creating opportunities for music making since she was a teenager. Her enthusiasm and collaborative leadership style help her engage colleagues and audiences alike. Jaemi’s reputation for honesty and respect helps her to build professional and personal relationships with players. It is these relationships that form the basis of her organizing campaigns that get her projects off the ground, often without financial backing. Jaemi’s naturally warm nature helps her to connect to audiences on a human level and make them feel like a part of the concert event, rather than voyeurs. With players and listeners alike, Jaemi builds a sense community that generates volunteers and helps an organization grow from the inside out.
In founding the Houston Heights Orchestra in 2011, Jaemi created a symphonic ensemble and musical community that builds connections by sharing music. The all-volunteer orchestra with rotating seating is made up of professionals, music students, and amateurs, all of whom come to rehearsals for something that is surprisingly hard to find – enjoyable music making. During her tenure with the orchestra, concerts were in intimate settings in the Heights neighborhood and always included social time with the audience and performers sharing refreshments. The collaborative atmosphere and general goodwill of the group make for exciting performances which have earned the group a sizable community audience. Fans of the Houston Heights Orchestra come to performances to hear great music and have an enjoyable night out. When performers and listeners come together with an adventurous and open spirit, great things can happen.