Dear Sweet Adelines,
I had an amazing experience recently in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was walking into my hotel, exhausted after having conducted a concert with the Tulsa Symphony, when I was greeted by a hoard of passionate, radiant and enthusiastic women, astonished to recognize me and eager to sing for me. My assistant posted a brief video of the choir singing and the next day there were a staggering 48,000 responses on my Facebook page, with enthusiastic comments about it from Sweet Adelines from around the world! Wow! You cannot imagine how moved I was to discover that there is an organization, with thousands of members, who have been inspired by The Art of Possibility, to inject such extraordinary energy, emotion, discipline and communication into their singing and into their lives! Possibility is spreading, like a movement, around the world!
Now, I have a story to tell you.
I have a spectacular youth orchestra: The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. It, too, is a Possibility organization, run entirely on the practices in the book. Its motto is Shaping Future Leaders Through Music. Each year, when we go on tour, we only need to take FOUR chaperones for 120 kids, between the ages of 12 and 21, because the members are so fantastically disciplined about their music and so clear about the purpose of the tour, as well as the vision of the organization, that they behave impeccably. On last year’s 3-week tour of Europe, there wasn’t a single incident that required the intervention of an adult!*
This year the tour is in two parts. First, we will go to New York to give two concerts in Carnegie Hall (June 6th and 7th). Then, on June 13th, we go on a twelve-day concert tour of Spain. Before each of the Carnegie concerts, I will give a talk, in which I will explain the whole Possibility paradigm and show how, if you train people, even very young people, in the practices, they will accomplish miracles and create shining eyes wherever they go. For the occasion, the Rio quartet, which was singing so vibrantly when I walked in the door of the Hyatt hotel in Tulsa, is going to fly up to New York to sing in the hallway of Carnegie Hall before each of the concerts. They will bear the message of the Sweet Adelines, embodying beauty, community, spirit and love and I will explain to the audience at the talk that they represent another possibility organization.
The cost of touring to Carnegie Hall and Europe with that many people, with instruments, hotels, concert halls, publicity etc. is staggering (about $900K to be precise). The orchestra is tuition free, so that musicians from poor families can be included, and most of our concerts on the tour are free, so that everybody can be inspired by the great music, even though they may not be able to afford to pay for tickets. So, the money has to be raised by a combination of generous donors, who believe in our mission, parents who can afford to contribute and the kids themselves playing concerts and busking in the streets. Most of the money has been raised: one passionately committed individual gave us $200K, another gave $100K and several have donated large sums of money, showing us that the work we are doing and the message we are bringing are powerful and valuable. But we still have the daunting task of raising $250,000 before we leave in a month - a task which largely falls on my shoulders.
I have just had a thrilling idea. How would it be if our two Possibility organizations were to join together? Here’s how it would work: we are launching a crowd-funding platform today (May 9th). If each of you would click on this link and contribute $10, it would take us over the top.
You might be saying: “Ben, you are crazy to take on such a wildly ambitious venture”, and I would answer: “Yes, crazy in a way, but think of the possibility that will be unleashed by this experience - the memories that these kids will have for the rest of their lives; the joy and passion they will bring to the people who hear them play their spectacular concerts and the shining eyes, as people realize that we can grow our kids to be contributors, walking with spirit and love through the journey of their lives.
If you are moved to participate in this and we succeed in raising the remaining $250K through this crowd funding process, it will be a wonderful demonstration of how Possibility thinking can generate institutions that work in harmony. If that happens, I will not only have the Rio Quartet sing in the foyer as they are planning to do, but invite them to come up and sing a song on the stage of Carnegie Hall at the beginning of my talk! What a thrill that would be! I will tell the story of how the Sweet Adelines joined together to help fund a fellow organization, as part of a world-wide possibility movement. What a striking message to bring to New York! It will probably be picked up by the press and who knows where that will lead?
Here is the link. I offer it as a possibility:
You will be excited to hear that Roz Zander has a new book, called Pathways to Possibility, coming out on Viking/Penguin on June 21st, which takes us to a new level of insight into ourselves and the impact we can each have in the world.
I am looking forward to future opportunities to work with your organization - Paula Davis and I have been plotting an event!
With warmest hugs and thanks,
*(I wrote up a description of last year’s tour and enclose it for those of you who might be inspired to read it and listen to some of the performances of this amazing young orchestra.)