Published December 9, 2020 at 10:35am
Story by Julia Baca. Photos courtesy of Bridge the Gap.
Bridge the Gap (BtG) is making music of all kinds more accessible to the community through performances in non-traditional locations in the Dallas area. Katya Schane explains, “there are more barriers to music than we often realize. Whether it’s financial constraints, time constraints, or something else, many people never get the opportunity to hear live classical music.” BtG aims to overcome these barriers and ensure people from all walks of life can benefit from musical experiences. BtG’s performances are all casual dress, free for all-ages, and occur in non-traditional locations like train stations or in local coffee shops.
Ever since it was founded in 2011 by Zack Reaves, BtG has been led by passionate SMU music students and advised by supportive faculty. Jay Sherman shares, “Zack himself thought that BtG would not continue once he left SMU, but so far, every time a past student leader has graduated, the responsibility of running the organization has been passed down.” Today, Katya and Jay are at the helm of this organization as co-executive and artistic directors. They are both undergraduate students studying music at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. Their roles in BtG are challenging, especially since they are brand new to the positions. Katya explains, “BtG is in transition mode. Jay and I just took over from the previous director and we don’t have a complete staff. We are fully responsible for organizing venues, managing financial statements, and coordinating with student performers.”
Katya, Jay, and BtG as a whole rely heavily on fellow SMU students in their programming. They recruit and pay students to perform concerts, especially for programs like Music on Mockingbird. The program brings music to the community in unexpected ways. Waiting for the DART you might hear string players tuning their instruments accompanied by the rhythmic sounds of the train rolling past. A disembodied voice on a PA might announce showtimes at a nearby movie theater as brass sounds soar. Families gather, people take pictures, and some individuals might even dance.
Music on Mockingbird is BtG’s most popular and beneficial program. This program is in partnership with the University Crossing Public Improvement District and traditionally provides free performances to the community at Mockingbird Station once a week. Students who are interested in playing choose their repertoire. Also, because students choose what to perform, BtG is able to bring diverse music to the community. Students will perform existing works, but many compose their own. “We’re really thankful for our student performers, so we are committed to making these performances good experiences for them as well as the community,” says Katya.
Bridge the Gap treats these student musicians as burgeoning young professionals, and they are committed to paying them for their hard work thanks to community partnerships and the contributions from individual donations. Jay also adds, “these concerts also act as opportunities for them to build on their stage presence and give them performance practice opportunities to play while being nervous.” Music on Mockingbird provides anyone who walks by or gets off the DART with beautiful music as they carry on with their day. “Many people stop to listen, take pictures, or video the performers, which is great because we really want community-members to engage with the music and our organization,” emphasizes Katya. BtG hosts other community concerts all over the Dallas area including at local coffee shops and even office buildings.
Due to the pandemic, live music has become a challenge to perform. Most organizations have moved toward providing live streams of socially distanced performances. As a result, Bridge the Gap is still in the process of planning upcoming concerts. BtG is coordinating with venues to provide outdoor concerts that can be attended both in-person and online. Katya and Jay believe that the best way to support performing arts organizations is to consume what they are offering. Increasing viewership of online concerts or attending performances that are being offered live is important to maintaining interest and support for arts organizations in this difficult time.
If you would like to donate to Bridge the Gap or would like to learn more about where to catch their next show, make sure you follow them on social media.