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"Behind the Scenes" in Music

English Phrase of the Day: behind the scenes (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary) the part of a theatre, etc. that the public does not usually see

The students were able to go behind the scenes to see how programs are made.

2. in a way that people in general are not aware of

A lot of negotiating has been going on behind the scenes.

behind-the-scenes work

Serving as a music director for 11 years, I learned a lot about what happens “behind the scenes” in music. For example, many decisions need to be made way ahead of the downbeat. Where should the musicians sit or stand on the stage? How long should the intermission be? Will someone speak to the audience about a newly composed work? What kind of paperwork is required for musicians to get paid in a timely manner? Is someone going to coordinate hotels and transportation for the artists? How many music stands? You get the idea.

I was fascinated to read about what violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins is doing “behind the scenes” in music. Ms. Tompkins is a well-known concert artist who has also been featured in hundreds of performances as the “Fiddler” in “Fiddler on the Roof.” But her “behind the scenes” work, described in a recent blog written by Laurie Niles for is a powerful example of a generally unseen, yet beautiful mission.

For over 15 years, Ms. Tompkins has been playing music for people visiting homeless shelters for meals through her organization called “Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul.” During that time, Tompkins collected shelter clients’ written reflections on the music they heard at meals. These profound reflections were then set to music in a song cycle written by leading classical music composers. Recently, this “behind the scenes” collaboration between Tompkins, shelter clients, composers and performers came to the stage at Carnegie Hall, front and center, for all to enjoy.

Read about all this, plus an unexpected “behind the scenes” decision about a food emergency in one of the shelters at:

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