What is EMIT?

Every year, people ask me "What is EMIT?  I am the founder and director of that music presenter organization, that seems to defy categories in many ways. The "composer-in-a-vacuum" model has never worked for me, so EMIT was created to connect with other composers, performers and the community at large. We've seen good times and hard times, but our wonderful board and supporters have remained determined to keep EMIT active.

This is the 21st season (nearly 400 concerts and activities) of EMIT presenting adventurous music - that is - diverse, often noncommercial programming including new classical, modern jazz, international, improvisation, and interdisciplinary art forms that incorporate sound. We prefer acoustic and near-acoustic volume levels believing that music should be listened to by a participating audience, not forced on people through loudness.

Emerging arts, innovation and virtuosity are important defining elements of the EMIT series. The name EMIT, is not an acronym.  It is Latin for "sending forth" and it is also a term for high energy dispersion.  Initially, we came together to make interesting music available in the Tampa area by tapping into the touring circuit of composer/performers making their way south.  That included the NYC downtown scene artists, as well as international artists. Over the years, we have directed more of our energies toward local artists and creating opportunities for them here in St. Petersburg.

Current major activities of EMIT include management of the annual St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, Recording Arts Program (RAP) with Boys & Girls Club students at the Royal Theater and ongoing EMIT series concerts throughout the year. EMIT also supports the 18-member Helios Jazz Orchestra and MIFU (Mobile Itinerant Funk Unit) as ensembles-in-residence. Educational instruction and workshops with local and visiting artists are also important components of EMIT programming.  Here is a video with highlights of the 2016 St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxFb_X9E20g

EMIT has partnered with dozens of local arts organizations over the years including Gasp!, Salvador Dali Museum, Royal Theater, St. Pete Second Saturday ArtWalk, Studio@620, SPIFFS, Florida Orchestra, NOVA 535, ARTpool, Lights On Tampa, Boys & Girls Club, Gulf Coast Museum of Fine Art, BONK, Gulfport’s City of Imagination, WMNF-FM, Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, Palladium Theater, Eckerd College, SPIFFS, St. Petersburg College, City of Tampa and several local galleries - to produce concerts and workshops.  We are open to collaborations with other organizations.

EMIT has received four Best of the Bay awards from Creative Loafing for its innovative concert activities.  EMIT is a member of Chamber Music America and was the first recipient of an ASCAP/Chamber Music American “Award for Adventurous Programming” in jazz.  EMIT has received CMA/Doris Duke Charitable Foundation grants to present concerts with the Seattle-based Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto, the New York-based Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet and The Claudia Quintet.

Some memorable events have included:

Seven concerts with jazz legend Sam Rivers, SWARM! Installation at the Salvador Dali Museum, MacArthur “Genius Award” recipient Ken Vandermark and his trio, Pamela Z with her interactive electronic mesh garment designed by M.I.T. faculty, the first Helios Jazz Orchestra concert, Rob Bernstein Sex Mob, Brazilian jazz pianist Jovino Santos Neto, dynamic bassist/composer John Lindberg, 6 visits with iconoclastic performer Eugene Chadbourne, violist LaDonna Smith, the “Ringing for Healing” performance protest created by Pauline Oliveros and Ione, Moving Current Dance Collective’s first St. Petersburg performance, avant-pianist Matthew Shipp, jazz legend Kevin Mahogany, German bassist Peter Kowald, The Claudia Quintet and dozens of workshops with both local and guest artists for students and the public. Some of our guest artists have left this earth, but their music remains.

EMIT always offers payment to musicians for their services, believing that musicians are rarely in financial positions to donate their services.  It is unlikely that EMIT will ever operate a storefront or performance space, as we prefer to designate most of its budget to artists directly for concerts and workshops.  66% of our total income for the past season, was paid to local musicians.  We pay musicians a decent professional rate and never ask them to perform for free or for unprofessional rates.  That's over $200,000 in the pockets of local musicians and composers, over the past 21 years.

All of the EMIT artists have helped me grow immeasurably as a composer and performer. I would like to think that other artists in the Tampa Bay area might the same. EMIT’s web site is located at www.emitseries.org .

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