Ever been to a house concert? Ever hosted one? I mean a private performance in somebody’s home, with supper and conversation. The performers are usually musicians or actors—but the intimate environment of a home is also ideal for meeting a writer up close.
To be part of a select audience listening to a poet in person, quizzing her with your personal questions, sharing your own ideas—that’s a very special experience. To participate in a literary house concert (or soiree!) is a privilege for all concerned—yet it can be so easy to arrange.
My brilliant sister-in-law held a literary soiree last Thursday and it was the bomb! I mean, it was a delight and a success on so many levels. Let me walk you through the process—then you’ll know what to expect if you get invited to a house concert, and what’s more, you’ll know how to throw one yourself.
The host invited 18 friends, the number that her living room could comfortably accommodate. Guests arrived at 5pm and were offered a drink and sandwiches. (Some kindly brought a plate.) When all the guests had socialised and found a seat, the host welcomed us all, introduced everyone, including me—because this was a social gathering as much as a concert.
At around 6pm I launched into my performance. (I forgot to say that I was the poet this time.)
I started with four simple poems and invited the audience to mentally write their own versions. This was fun. Then I read some poems that got to the heart of my topic, with a short intermission for more refreshments. Discussion followed, ranging wide and free, and I finished with a handful of light and funny poems.
Finally I sold copies of How To Be Old, and of course we chatted and I signed each book. The end! Everyone went home buzzing and as someone said, “with a smile on their face.”
Hosting tips for a house concert
- Do it your way. It’s your home: you and the performer(s) decide what suits you both.
- Invite as many as your space will accommodate; ten is usually a reasonable minimum. Make it an RSVP occasion, by invitation only, unless you’ve got a barn-sized space.
- A house concert is a social occasion where the audience sees a performance up close and interacts with the performer(s).
- Tell people in advance if books or other goods will be available for cash, and the price.
- Keep it simple and enjoy yourselves.