How to say thank you to a musician
January 21, 2008 4:07 PM   Subscribe

What thank you gift to present to an unwilling interviewee?

I'm trying to arrange an interview with a pretty famous artist in the classical music world. The guy is averse to interviews, I've been told, and if he agrees to meet with me, I'd like to give him something as a thank you. I'll give him an audio file of our interview as a matter of course, but I wanted to present him with some sort of thank you gift in addition to that.

Thing is, I don't know anything about this guy personally. I thought of bringing him a big bouquet of flowers, but that's more the kind of thing people do after a performance. I have no idea what he can or can't eat, can or can't drink, etc. Any ideas would be appreciated.

BTW: He's a pianist and the most famous member of a chamber ensemble that he founded decades ago, but he hasn't performed with them since the late seventies. The occasion is their reunion concert, and he may never perform with these guys again, so it's a pretty historic occasion.)
posted by frosty_hut to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't bring anything to the interview, if he agrees. Send a gift after; something that shows you were paying attention over the course of the conversation.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:10 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Are we talking about G├ęza Anda? Not Leon Fleisher, of course, because he's playing again. And not Menahem Pressler, because he's still working, even though he's about to retire.

Give us more info- the Hive Mind may be able to help with more personal info.
posted by arnicae at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2008

Sure, I didn't meant to be mysterious. It's Peter Serkin--he's going to be performing with Tashi, and he's only doing it in four cities--ours included. So it would be great to get him on tape for the classical station I work for...

I met him once ages ago when he played a free performance for the students at my high school. He was super sweet and not an ego at all. He's kind of a quiet guy--it's all about the music for him. I originally wanted to ask him some personal questions, but I suspect that's just the kind of thing he doesn't want to get into.

This whole thing may not even work out, but I've got my fingers crossed.
posted by frosty_hut at 4:22 PM on January 21, 2008

N.B. -- I don't mean Serkin's retiring from performance altogether. It's just that he may never play with Tashi again (they still occasionally come together to perform without him).
posted by frosty_hut at 4:23 PM on January 21, 2008

if you are purporting to do journalism, it's poor form to send a gift (and would probably get you fired). a thank-you note is sufficient. you don't want to appear to be purchasing access to a source.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:27 PM on January 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

Seconding thinkingwoman. Have fun with the interview; I'm jealous!
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 4:29 PM on January 21, 2008

What kind of interview is this? Do you mean interview as in journalism? I mean, rules may vary depending on where you work or what kind of publication it is, but I'm going to have to back up thinkingwoman here that gifting an interviewee for a story is a no-no when it comes to journalism.
posted by kkokkodalk at 4:34 PM on January 21, 2008

Oh, I never realized it would look like purchasing access. Thanks, thinkingwoman.

Thanks, Fan. I'm nervous! Hope it works out :-)
posted by frosty_hut at 4:35 PM on January 21, 2008

To clarify -- I'm going to tape the interview. If my manager likes it enough, it might be aired as part of a program segment. But I might just transcribe it for publication on our the station's web site.
posted by frosty_hut at 4:37 PM on January 21, 2008

okay, so what you should do is send him a brief thank-you note, plus a link to the story and/or a tape of the segment for his own publicity files.

and that's it! enjoy your interview. it's neat to be able to talk to someone you seriously admire, as you obviously do. relish it!
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:13 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

h'm, Mr. Arnicae and I have seen Peter Serkin perform several times in just the last few years- most recently the Stravinsky Piano Concerto at Ravinnia in 2002, though he hasn't been performing as much recently. He's still pretty young, though, just 61. You're not referring to his notably reclusive father, Rodolf Serkin, perchance?
posted by arnicae at 5:33 PM on January 21, 2008

Oops, should have read through more thoroughly. You're not saying that he isn't performing, you're just saying he hasn't been performing with Tashi.

No specific suggestions for him- maybe just the gift of, at the end of the interview, warming telling him how much it meant to you to hear him perform while you were still in high school. I think that might mean a lot.
posted by arnicae at 5:35 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Find a vintage LP of the quintet in mint condition and give it to him as a symbol of their anniversary.
posted by sully75 at 6:01 PM on January 21, 2008

The best give you can give is to not waste his time. Be prepared, be punctual, be professional and get the quotes right.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:41 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

My understanding of journalist ethics is that it's not OK for journalists to accept gifts, but that they say nothing about giving. Journalists pay for interviews all the time. Like any network morning show for example.

Don't be a goon, however. Anything you do should be thoughtful gesture between two humans crossing paths, not a tribute paid to an important person. Buy dinner, or what sully75 said. Don't give him an albatross (flowers).
posted by gjc at 6:50 PM on January 21, 2008

Oh god yes, listen to 45moore45: greatest gift is to get the quotes right. In the interviews I've done (certainly many fewer than Peter Serkin) I've been misquoted, at least mildly, more often than not! Get the words right and the context right and you'll have a warm place in his heart.
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:38 PM on January 21, 2008

Network morning shows, at least in the US, do not pay for interviews. "checkbook journalism" is very bad form in America and is generally only admitted to by tabloid shows.
posted by Maias at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2008

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