In this LITE episode, host Abigail Wright talks with Artistic Entrepreneur & Chamber Musician Louis Levitt about the value of close-knit ensembles, flexibility in parenting, envisioning things never done before, and more.
For full, un-cut access, including discussions on what children know that adults sometimes don't, learning about learning, the devaluation of recorded music, and more at http://www.patreon.com/peaceofpersistence.
Louis is an artistic entrepreneur and internationally renowned chamber musician with an uncanny talent for performing, creating, implementing and maintaining groundbreaking musical ventures of the highest caliber.
As the double bassist of Sybarite5, Louis Levitt was the first ever double bassist to win the Concert Artist Guild Competition. Since then, he has performed with Sybarite5 in hundreds of concerts nationally and internationally, his debut EP with them cracked the top ten on the Billboard charts, and their follow up LP Everything in its Right Place was released at Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim. Their next album, Outliers, will be released later this season
In addition to performing with Sybarite5, Louis Levitt is currently an Artistic Director of Bright Shiny Things, a music collective for mezzo soprano and double bass. He is also in demand as a soloist and lecturer. He has given masterclasses around the USA from Penn State to Fairbanks AK, has presented at the International Society of Double Bassists, and has spoken on the art of engagement at the APAP arts conference and the Curtis Institute, New England Conservatory & Mannes School. He's also currently a professor at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Louis lives in NYC with his wife, mezzo-soprano and actress Blythe Gaissert, and their two children.
You can find all Sybarite5 concerts at sybarite5.org and Bright Shiny Things at brightshiny.ninja. You can find their music on iTunes, Google Play, on Bandcamp (their favorite), and at their fan pages on Facebook.
How did you get started with Bright Shiny Things, and what's your vision for it?
A composer and performer Gilda Lyons, hired Louis and his wife, mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert-Levitt, to sing a concert for the Phoenix Concert series in NYC. She wrote music specifically for them and commissioned music by other composers. They're able to add and subtract various instruments with a core of double bass and mezzo, and Louis is excited to be able to add words to the music in order to add a greater level of expression.
Sybarite5 is having their 10th anniversary!
To celebrate, they're releasing Outliers, with 10 new works from 10 new composers.
What has being a part of such a close-knit community added to your life?
You really get a chance to delve deep into the music, with more time spent on the music and discussions about the music.
What do you envision for your musical and professional goals going forward?
For Sybarite5, a lot of new music and collaborations, and a lot of new touring. He's also excited to see what he can do with Bright Shiny Things that he can't do with Sybarite5. Finally, he's thrilled to build the double bass program at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Louis discusses parenthood. No matter what you do to plan for it, you can never know how it's going to be, because everyone's situation is unique and individual. Sometimes, it works out well when one is touring and the other is home. Sometimes, it's difficult when they're both touring. Flexibility is key. Because he really wants to spend time with his kids, it helps him to hone in on what is really important and how he truly wants to spend his time, because it's so much more precious.
Looking back, do you have any advice for other freelance couples considering having kids?
Just have them. Start there. If it's something you want, you'll find a way to make it work. If you live somewhere where your family can help you, that's great. If not, you'll need a lot of help and money, but those things shouldn't stop you from having them.
What's your favorite accomplishment so far?
There was no precedent for Sybarite5. It took him 5 years to decide that it was a good idea to make something so new, despite the lack of historical data for it, without the validation for it. He's proud that they helped to tear down the wall for other ensembles in the classical music world wanting to form a new group. Memorable experiences include winning the Concert Artists Guild, premiering an album at Carnegie Hall. He loves the moments where they break through something and are able to challenge people's perceptions.
Have you always been happy, or was it something you had to learn?
For Louis, being unhappy is what helps you find happiness. He searched for happiness in an orchestra and then he went to a string quintet, and now he has Bright Shiny Things and teaching at a university. He finds happiness to be something not so easily defined, but his kids help him to be content. He talks about how musicians and artists are constantly pushing themselves to do more, because the possibilities with music are endless.
Focus on continued artistic growth. For anyone? Focus on self-growth. We have a lot of choices in our country, so you have to educate yourself on the choices you make.