Art, Music, French Immersion!

Salut! My name is Runa Shuda, a rising sophomore intending to major in Data Analytics and Marketing. I am a little different from my colleagues in the University of Pittsburgh, because I am here with aspirations to obtain a second degree. Last spring, I graduated from McGill University in Montréal with a Bachelor of Music in flute performance—why such a sudden change? I myself is also surprised with this new turn of events, with a beginning of a new and exciting journey. The least I can say is, the pandemic has changed me and taught me a lot. During the pandemic, I am sure each one of us had lost something that allowed us to become more appreciative of what we have in the present. For us musicians, losing the opportunity to play and listen to concerts in person was like losing our limbs. As a young aspiring artist, it has been embedded to me from my childhood that the artistic resources available to me from such a young age to know has influenced my love, admiration, and appreciation for music and musicians. Being able to attend in person concerts to see and hear professionals play is a profound experience and inspiration to music students. However, when the world shut down, many orchestral organizations had to be creative in order to deliver digitized concerts, to keep the world inspired and moved through uploading their concerts online. Of course, bigger and well-known orchestras could afford to produce a high-budget digital concert hall experience, but many smaller orchestras, although it may not have gone out of business, has struggled to continue producing concerts and paying their musicians. This underfunding of non-profit and performance organizations has of course been magnified during the pandemic, but it is important to recognize that this have been happening long before. The underfunding and budget cuts throughout the years have greatly affected professional orchestras and performing arts groups, leading many groups to go on strikes and leaving many artists without a stable income. When we look at the trajectory of the funding of these artistic organizations, it became clear that these resources that allow us to grow immensely as people and artists were being threatened. When the pandemic temporarily cut off this source of inspiration, it brought me a period of introspection. What is the orchestra’s role as a part of the community and the city’s rich history? How can the next generation of administrative leaders of the arts preserve the art of orchestral performance, and to support musicians as keepers of culture and bearers of history? How can I contribute so that the arts, the orchestras, and the musicians can keep up with the everchanging world? 

With my time here at Pitt, I intend on trying to find the answer to these questions little by little. To tackle this, my first instinct was to learn about artistic and musical culture in a country where many forms of arts are integrated into their society. One big difference between the culture of classical music between the United States and Europe is that much of the repertoire of classical music that is performed and loved by orchestras were born in European land. It is part of their rich history—therefore, it is much more encouraged to, and a part of their education to appreciate, nurture, and continue their line of musical and artistic creativity. And because they are widely appreciated and funded, orchestras and smaller ‘chamber’ orchestras can exist outside of bigger cities to represent and nurture the cities in a more provincial area. Among the European countries, Paris is arguably the most visited and celebrated places, attracting people around the world by their especially artistically rich culture. This summer, I chose to work abroad with the International Internship Program in Paris where I will be working with an opera company in Paris to discover and better understand the process of producing a performance, attracting audiences, and running a successful non-profit organization. By immersing myself in French culture and working with a European non-profit company, my goal is to learn about how the arts and music play a role in their lives, and how this affects their financial and marketing related decision making within a non-profit organization. By thinking outside of my cultural box, I hope that this experience will raise my knowledge and competency to contribute to the future success of U.S non-profit organizations, to protect and increase the accessibility of music and arts with an international, and unique point of view.