Classical music, white gloves, monocles, diamonds — these are not the first things one thinks of when picturing New Orleans. Perhaps they elicit an image of a mansion in the Upper West Side of New York, with rich people schmoozing and drinking champagne. These associations are exactly what Tucker Fuller was trying to avoid when choosing to work in New Orleans as a classical composer.
Tucker Fuller graduated from the University of Michigan as a composer. Instead of following his fellow graduates as they flocked to New York, Fuller resisted and moved to New Orleans. New York holds many opportunities for classical composers, but Fuller knew that he needed more independence and variety in classical styles than the New York industry could provide. While New Orleans had fewer opportunities for classical composers, it offered a much more unique variety of sounds.
Fuller’s resistance to move to New York paid off. Today he is a successful composer who is head over heels for the New Orleans music community. His connection with other musicians spans beyond their profession: “I love all the different musicians that I get to work with, and many of them I socialize with. Not because they are good musicians, it’s because I like many of them because they’re wonderful people.” Mutualism does not just function to further musician’s careers in the industry, it also strengthens their connections to each other and their community as a whole.
Fortunately for Fuller, his income and financial stability were not severely impacted by the COVID-19 shut down. This good fortune is not lost on him, and he holds solidarity for creative workers who are currently struggling financially. Many of his fellow musicians have “side jobs” or work inconsistent gigs like weddings, other chamber music groups, and the various musicals that come through town. Their loss of this income is detrimental. Fuller worries about the performing arts in general and its lack of funding and recognition.
Writing compositions during the first week of the COVID-19 shut down proved to be quite difficult for Fuller. When he sat down to write, his mind was muddled with questions about the future of his pieces, such as where they would be performed and for what audiences. It eventually dawned on him that he cannot control what happens to the industry right now, and that his pieces will see the light of day at some point. For now, Fuller spends his days writing and waiting patiently for his next commission.
You can immerse yourself in Tucker Fuller’s compositions at Happyland Theater (3126 Burgundy) this weekend. He will have a performance of MURDER (a song cycle of murder ballads) on Friday, October 21 at 8pm (doors at 7:30pm). Mary Townsend and Meryl Zimmerman join pianist Justin Snyder in the performance, and you can get tickets here. On Saturday, October 22 at 8pm (doors at 7:30pm), Mary Townsend and Meryl Zimmerman join pianist Justin Snyder and cellist Philip von Maltzahn to perform LOVE (depraved torch songs). More information and tickets can be found here.