Arts and Entertainment

Bainbridge's Island Music Guild celebrates big birthday, with big plans

Dave Bristow of Island Music Center, formerly Island Music Guild. The center celebrates its 10th anniversary on Sept. 4. - Brad Camp
Dave Bristow of Island Music Center, formerly Island Music Guild. The center celebrates its 10th anniversary on Sept. 4.
— image credit: Brad Camp

The celebration of Island Music Guild’s 10th anniversary next week coincides with a bevy of changes, not the least of which is an expanded space and a new name.

As to the latter, Executive Director Dave Bristow has a first order of business.

“I’m telling myself that on September the fourth, I’m changing the message on the answering machine,” he said.

The outgoing missive will welcome callers to the Island Music Center, a name that Bristow and the board of directors believe encompasses the organization’s past and existing position as a music education center along with a hoped-for role as Bainbridge Island’s musical hub.

The organization will mark its progress and prospects in a community celebration on Sept. 4.

Island Music Teachers Guild started small, Bristow said, with a few music teachers shepherding a handful of students, quality instruction being a top priority. Over time, the organization’s scope widened around its core mission as it added performance space and recording studios to the growing roster of individual lessons and group classes.

Along with an expansion of services came more space; two years ago, IMG gained a little breathing room by taking over additional square footage in the Rolling Bay facility it rents on Valley Road. But what really opened Bristow up to the possibilities was that this summer, IMG (now IMC) got the run of the place when the building’s other tenant, the Creativity Center, joined forces with Oil and Water Art Supply in Winslow.

IMC’s formal entry is now on the Valley Road side of the building where the large windows are; no longer do visitors need to enter into the performance hall and wend their way to a studio or lesson space.

Just off the entry is a large space for “everything admin-ish” including an actual office and an airy array of work stations and display space. All of this has replaced the tiny countertop Bristow called “office” for three years. Beyond that lies an open lounge area, with room for couches and plenty of wall space for art.

“I’ve always wanted to have a part of the Guild where people can just come and hang out without having to feel that they need to sign up for lessons,” Bristow said.

Upstairs remains the nerve center for classes and solo rehearsals; the Suzuki Association also has an office there, and a growing IMC library has a larger dedicated room. The knocking out of one wall, with the blessing of a flexible landlord, has unified the upstairs areas.

Additionally, IMC is looking for a few new board members to add to what Bristow terms its enthusiastic, committed core. It was the board member search that got everyone talking about the name change.

“’What’s a guild?’” potential new members would ask him. “‘It sounds a bit private, a bit exclusive.’

“‘Center’ sort of reflected what we wanted the place to be. You have a question, and you’re out there – come to us,” he said.

Scenarios might include someone calling to say she has a 30-year-old cassette tape that she wants to preserve. Could IMC help? Or, can IMC help produce 100 CDs to sell at our concert, or help my student keep up with his trombone playing this summer? In all cases, although community members might not know it yet, the answer is already yes.

The other aspect of IMC’s hoped-for expansion is to strengthen its ties to other music organizations around the island, for example the Bainbridge chorale, Bainbridge Youth Orchestra, Norm Johnson’s Music Community Resources and Darden Burns’ First Sundays at the Commons concert series.

When Zon Eastes left his post as executive director of the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council earlier this year, Bristow said the island lost a strong connector; Eastes excelled at communicating with and coordinating music organizations, not an easy task with entities that “emerged from a personal passion.”

“Now, what we have to do is find ways of keeping the talking going,” Bristow said.

His hope is that IMC is now positioned to help do that. Along those lines, other music organizations will have information tables set up at next Friday’s celebration, along with food, concerts by local bands, students and instructors and an instrument “petting zoo,” for people who have never drawn a bow or plucked the strings on a guitar. The party is intended to be inclusive, not exclusive, just as IMC views itself.

“We’ve brought music education to be very much what it’s all about. And now, we want to get back into the community,” he said.

One to grow on

Island Music Center, formerly Island Music Guild, celebrates its 10th anniversary from 5:30-9 p.m. Sept. 4 at 10598 Valley Rd. There will be barbecue, demonstrations, performances, information tables from island music organizations and more. For information and a full listing of fall classes, see www.islandmusic.org.

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