What’s up Alum? – Marc Eisenberg

8 Nov

Marc Eisenberg, UHP/CCAS '94

Marc Eisenberg, CCAS ’94, graduated from the University Honors Program with a major in American Studies. Marc is currently the Executive Director of the Washington Bach Consort and founder of the DC Music Salon, a free film & book series about music in Washington, DC featuring discussions with expert guests.

I just turned forty years old, and music is as important to me today as it was when I was a freshman in the first year of GW’s University Honors Program in 1990.

I think I was asked to submit this “What’s Up” because I’m older, but also because my career path is different than most. I’m the Executive Director of the Washington Bach Consort—a professional baroque chorus and orchestra here in DC. Music has always been at the center of my life. My American Studies BA at GW allowed me to take classes and have internships (Smithsonian American History Museum’s “Memphis: Rock & Soul exhibit,” Charlin Jazz Society) focused on American music. At GW I worked at Lisner Auditorium, starting as an usher and progressing to the office, then to House Manager when I graduated. After Lisner, I helped out a regional touring rock band (GW’s own Empty’s) and John Alagia (producer of Dave Matthews, Ben Folds, John Mayer, among others). At the time, I felt if I wanted  to make money doing music I’d have to move to Los Angeles, New York or Nashville, but I loved living in DC.

At the same time, the internet began to gain in popularity. While at GW, I had spent time on the internet—before web browsers!— keeping track of my favorite bands, and thought it was cool. So, some friends and I created a small startup company, IntraACTIVE, Inc. When we started, a big part of our job was being evangelists for the usefulness of the web. Heads of organization sometimes said, “I have a fax machine and an email address, why would I want a website?”

For a dozen years I oversaw client relationships for a variety of web service companies. During my five years at CTSG/Kintera, my clients included the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the United Nations and others. I’d try to help them better identify and meet their goals. I did similar management work for USWeb/marchFIRST (World Bank, America Online, USAToday), The Aspen Institute, and The Away Network (OutsideMagazine.com).

Every web company I worked for either was acquired or went bankrupt or both. When I left a company, I’d sublet my apartment, buy a one way ticket, hoist my purple backpack and go see the world for months at a time. I’ve traveled in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and extensively around the US.

I enjoyed my work, but never lost my passion for music. I was always reading about, listening to and constantly going to see live music. In 2009, despite challenging economic conditions, I gave myself six months to find a job back in the arts — ideally in music. I was hired by the Washington Bach Consort to be their Executive Director. My job includes fundraising, marketing, overseeing a staff, working with a board of directors, and doing everything I can to allow great musicians make their art. I love the type of problem solving I do, have learned a ton about classical music, and feel great about my work.

I have a vivid memory of sitting in class my senior year at GW, writing down my expenses and being upset as I was unable to figure out how I would make ends meet. I didn’t think it was possible that one could “love their work.” I thought it was a lie grown-ups told themselves. I was wrong: I love my work.

In addition to my day job, last year I started the DC Music Salon, a free film & book series about music, featuring discussions with expert guests. DC has a musical heritage second to none and our salon celebrates it. We show films and speak with musicians, filmmakers, authors and other fellow music lovers. These aren’t lectures, and all are welcome to attend and join the conversation. We’ve had salons on the Duke Ellington, Go-Go Music, and the 9:30 Club. Upcoming salons include: The Bayou (December 14), Sonny Stitt (February 8), DC Bluegrass (April 11), and Phil Ochs (June 13), all 7-9pm the Shaw library at 7th & R. Sts. NW. Learn more at Facebook, (http://www.facebook.com/groups/162960400385077/)

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