My music experience designer project. BookXperience, Episode One, Part Three.
the BookXperience event
Calling myself a music experience designer, I launched BookXperience, the concept that lets the audience experience a book on a new, deeper level with original music written specifically for the storyline. To read part one, click here.

I led the rehearsal as planned, mentioning that the narrator couldn't make it. Once the instrumentalists found out that we weren't going to have a synthesizer and they would have to play on their own, they began panicking even more than I did. While I assured everyone that I'd try my best to solve this problem, I had no idea how I'd approach it.

I had two options — either do the event outside without the synthesizer and the majority of my compositions, or do it inside and not have as much traction and exposure to listeners. While it technically looked like I had a choice, in reality I knew I could only do BookXperience if we had a piano. This dilemma was even more complicated since I didn't even have a keyboard to begin with. I continued searching for a spare one and reaching out to my former teachers, colleagues, friends, classmates, but that wasn't giving any results.
Then, I received a reply from Elena Maksimova, the director at Kazakhstan International School, and was told I can call her in the morning. That meant that I was putting this question — which would determine how well BookXperience Episode One would go — on hold until the day of the event.

Other than that, I had to figure out whether Abay was still on board and find a backup narrator just in case. I didn't find any backup, but it turned out I didn't need any as he was still ready to participate in BookXperience. I also had to come up with what I was going to wear for that day, so I made a quick run to the mall to pick out a dress.

The very first thing I did on June 16, the day of the event, was call Ms. Elena — she informed me that the school would allow us to borrow the synthesizer for the event, which was great news to start the day with. Knowing I have to pick up the instrument in the afternoon, I drove to the salon to get my hair styled.

My uncle agreed to drop me off to collect the synthesizer and help me take it to Starbucks Kazakhmys, the place where BookXperience Episode was being held. We arrived at the school, had to pass through numerous security stands and couldn't figure out how to get to the music practice rooms, so I called Ms. Aigerim, the music teacher. When I called, the first thing I heard was: "well, I don't know how to say this… unfortunately the synthesizer broke." You can imagine how I felt at that moment.
Photos taken at the BookXperience event
We entered the classroom and stood there looking at the keyboard. It was actually the adapter that broke — the synthesizer itself was working, but that was of no use without a proper cord to connect it to power. Without thinking through our next steps, my uncle and I took it and started searching for a shop where we could buy the cord.

While my mom suggested we check out the electric piano adapter that we had at home, my uncle insisted we go to a shop instead as the probability of finding the right cord there was significantly higher (just for fun, we tested whether the home one works after the event and it did in fact work, so make sure to always take your mom's advice). We drove to the other end of the city just to buy it.

At that point, I was running late for my own rehearsal, which I scheduled for 5pm since the event began at 7pm. I ended up making the program brochure for guests in the car, as well as sending out scores for printing.
Finally making it to Starbucks, I met the performers and the narrator and we began rehearsing. I was nervous at the start because up until the rehearsal I didn't know what experts of what compositions would fit into the text, but I also trusted myself I'd figure it out along the way. With about an hour and a half to prepare, we ran through the book, the music and how the two would intertwine only once. In case something would go wrong, there was always the option of improvisation.

All in all, there were about 20 people at the coffee store. More than half didn't come specifically for this event, but ended up listening as the story unraveled. There was one person who was in the middle of a Zoom class, yet he still paid careful attention. There were also people that came into Starbucks to order drinks and left immediately after, and there were others that arrived to buy coffee, forgot about it and watched us instead. One of the audience told me she felt like she really was inside the book.
From left to right: Nursultan, Kuralai, Anouk, Diana, Abay
I could name a lot of things that I could have done differently, could have done better: have multiple copies of The Pine Islands for people to buy and read, introduce the performers properly, ask for everyone's emails to send notifications as many were wondering when the next episodes are going to take place, find a microphone for Abay, REHEARSE MORE.

At the same time, I think it was great to have the opportunity to even do the event, partner with Starbucks and publishing house "MIF" and have the support of Bilimkana Almaty School and Kazakhstan International School. It was a journey filled with mini challenges — the conductor cancelling last minute because he forgot about the event, musicians dropping out, the synthesizer adapter breaking hours before the event, to name a few. But there were a lot of people who went above and beyond to help me bring the concept that's been in my head for months to life.

This event wouldn't have ever been possible without:
narrator Abay Tabynay
cellist Nursultan Alimbekov
violinist Kuralai Tursynbaeva
violist Diana Mukhamediyarova
Vladimir Krestnikov, Starbucks
Anna, Starbucks
Daniyar Uteulin, publishing house "MIF"
Natalya Petrovna, head of Bilimkana Almaty School
Elena Maksimova, director at Kazakhstan International School

I am planning to continue doing the SoundBook Series every month — new books, new compositions, new locations. Subscribe to the newsletter and stay tuned for the next episodes of BookXperience!
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