By: Colin Aldridge
Every year, Music in the Round selects artists from the Columbus area to perform live and share their songwriting process in order to raise money for charity. This year, the event will showcase the talents of Brian Douglas Day, Carly Fratianne of Souther, Joey Viola and Carole Walker. The one rule for the songwriters is that they must play songs they wrote themselves on the instruments on which they were written.
I had the opportunity to interview chairperson Rachel Mazur via email about the history of Music in the Round and what goes into putting on the show. Our conversation has been edited for clarity.
In the Record Store (ITRS): Can you tell me a little about your history with Music in the Round?
Rachel Mazur (RM): Music in the Round (‘MITR’ as we call it) is a fundraiser for the Short North Rotary. We started it 13 years ago in an effort to raise funds for the Rafiki AIDS orphanage in Kenya to move from a small apartment in the city to a large farm they would own and make sustainable (which we accomplished with the help of many others!). I became engaged because of my close friend and fellow Rotarian, Kirk Horn brought the Music in the Round format idea to our club after a visit to Nashville.
ITRS: Can you walk me through the process of planning, organizing, and executing the event?
RM: Up until this year, Erin Corrigan and a team of Short North Rotary volunteers led the process. This year, I’ve attempted to step in to relieve some of the burden from Erin. We also have several Short North and community volunteers that assist. It’s an incredible amount of planning and preparation–from choosing incredible musicians, working with the venue, selling sponsorships, working with production (PageTech is incredible!) and communicating it to the public.
ITRS: What role do you play in the process?
RM: This is my first year stepping and I’m really working to coordinate all of our wonderful volunteers and vendors to make the event successful. I am also extremely passionate about the beneficiaries and bring the causes to the front of the event as best I can.
ITRS: How are the artists selected?
RM: Our Short North Rotary has several big music fans–two of those being Erin Corrigan and Tim Hill. They keep a running list of artists we think would be a great fit for the event and attempt to limit it to four each year, which is not an easy task! We also try not to repeat artists of previous years, which is extremely difficult considering this is our 13th year with four artists at each event.
ITRS: How are the benefactors selected?
RM: The event typically supports the projects the Short North Rotary is supporting and passionate about at the time. This year, we’re excited to support the Rafiki AIDS Orphanage in Kenya as well as the Kirk Horn Music Program. Kirk was the one that brought MITR to our rotary 13 years ago to support the Rafiki kids. We then did another MITR about seven years ago to raise money to bring the kids a music school. Two years ago, Kirk organized his last MITR (he passed away from cancer) and left a legacy project for us to bring music to kids all over the world through telepresence (he was in IT). This year, we’re hoping to demonstrate this technology and raise funds to get 20 kids at local Boys & Girls clubs music equipment and lessons.
ITRS: What kind of form do the shows usually end up taking?
RM: It’s awesome–the artists are on an elevated platform facing each other and the audience is gathered around them. They play songs on the instrument they wrote them on and tell us about the meaning of the songs to them. It’s an intimate and beautiful experience where the music is the focus.
ITRS: What do you consider to be the most exciting part about making MITR happen?
RM: Making the world a better place through the universal language of music!
ITRS: Were any previous goals achieved this year? Do you have any future goals in mind?
RM: Heck yes! We’ve helped so many people through this event. In the future, I could see Kirk’s music vision really take on a life of its own and us being a solution to bring music to kids where programs are either not available or are being cut. Also, we’ll not only bring music, but collaboration–kids in Kenya will be able to rock out with kids in Columbus! My personal goal is to record an album with kids from the U.S. and Kenya as well as artists from previous year’s MITR programs and have the proceeds go toward getting music to more children. I plan on being back at the Rafiki Orphanage in 2020 for the album release party–want to come?
Music in the Round will take place at Via Vecchia Winery at 485 S. Front Street, March 3 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at musicintheround.com.