"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” Leonard Bernstein, the great American composer, conductor and pianist, clearly offered this quote with a looming performance deadline and a strong vision of the desired sound he and his musicians hoped to achieve. Creating and executing a memorable event shares many similarities with presenting a choral symphony performance.
As a passionate team of planners, dining and beverage directors, chefs, line cooks, servers and dish washers, Larkspur Events & Dining strives to create lasting memories for our clients and guests with constant time restrictions.
Growing up the son of a renowned, highly inspirational choral conductor myself, I was exposed to the hard work and dedication required to create unforgettable sounds from a large assembly of talented and well-trained musicians. As a restaurateur, chef and proprietor of an events venue, I draw upon my childhood experiences to help create and execute similar lasting memories for our guests.
Both are fleeting, but fortunately for the musicians, their performance can be recorded and played again and again for the listener’s enjoyment. Events can be captured only through images to remember the shared times and offerings, but the flavors and gestures live on only in our thoughts. Here are three ways that musical and event performances line up.
1. Planning for a choral performance begins with the selection of the venue, scale of the audience and acoustics. Once music is selected, the conductor makes notations on the score to interpret the sound and tempo desired from the musicians.
In the events field, we build a relationship with our clients to determine their needs and aspirations. We then adjust our “score” to fit their specific desires. The food and beverage menus are thoughtfully tuned to match the pace, style and feel of the desired guest experience. This initial stage is orchestrated in collaboration with the chef, as well as the beverage, dining and event directors coming together to plan as one voice.
2. Just as the conductor, singers and orchestra thoughtfully practice for hours on end to capture their desired sound, we the event planners and executers create, edit and re-edit the event in preparation for our performance.
From the BEO (banquet event order) to the menu descriptions, ordering sheets, prep sheets, flow-of-service charts, seating charts, rental needs, staffing schedules, mise en place preparation and china selection, we try to mindfully anticipate all needs so that we can perform the day of the big event with our hearts on fire and our minds on ice. As Archilochus, the Greek poet, once said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
3. As the event draws near, both events professionals and skilled musicians run through their performances again and again in preparation for the big moment. We all move into position: musicians behind their sheets of music on risers facing the conductor and service industry professionals behind our kitchen counters, waiting to produce á la minute hors d’oeuvres and having trays of champagne prepared for our guests’ arrival.
Once the performance begins, if everyone has done their homework, follows protocol, has hospitality in their heart, is passionate about their craft and remains calm, the event will be a resounding success for everyone’s enjoyment.
When the performance is over, we, the skilled artisans, put away our tools in anticipation of the next show. From violins to sheet pans, we respectfully care for our instruments in anticipation of the next performance and are grateful to have the opportunity to join as one voice in concert and provide lasting memories for our guests and their loved ones.
Thomas Salamunovich moved to Vail at age 18, discovered his affinity for the culinary arts and enrolled in a San Francisco Culinary School. Today, he owns and operates Larkspur Events & Dining, Larkburger and Savory Group in Vail.