Alexandria VA- Alexandria musicians Robyn and Vaughn Ambrose, founders of the Yellow Door Concert Series, are determined to bring the local community together through live music.
“We started to think about our lives thinking back and we realized the most impactful relationships we had developed were through our interaction through the art and through music,” said Vaughn Ambrose.
“Just with everything going on in our world over the last five or six years we thought it would be the perfect time to try and bring the community together through that thing that brought us together, and that was music performance and art music and how it enriched not only our lives but the individuals that we were in school with and the people we grew up with.”
The Ambrose’s founded the Yellow Door Concert Series in 2018 after noticing a lack of opportunity for community members to experience the arts and music in Alexandria. They named the series after the yellow doors they have at their home. Robyn, a classical bass player, and Vaughn, a jazz saxophone player, began the predominantly jazz concert series by hosting their first concerts inside their home in Alexandria.
“We wanted to figure out how we could create space easily to bring our community together and we have a very open sitting space in the front part of our house, and we were like ‘Wait, if we just moved some furniture we could fit like 50 people in here.’ So that’s literally what we did,“ said Robyn Ambrose.
At first the Ambrose’s started the concerts on an invitation basis only, as they lacked the space in their home to open it up to everyone. Now, because of the rising interest from community members, the concerts are hosted at the Alexandria Free Methodist Church and are open invite due to the larger space.
During COVID-19 the Ambrose’s hosted a few concerts outside that required masks and social distancing. Although, as the pandemic comes to an end, the couple hopes to continue to open up their concerts in accordance with CDC guidelines.
“Our goal is to try to get a concert in every four to six weeks and we’ve got a youth group that we’ve put together as well that we’re incorporating into all these concerts,” said Robyn.
The Ambrose’s hope the Yellow Door Concert Series will allow community members more exposure to the arts, especially the youth. Having four kids themselves, the Ambrose’s say putting together these concerts has been a great bonding experience for their family.
“We’re showing them that you can take your passion and use that to touch the individuals around you and touch the community and make a difference,” said Vaughn.
During the concerts, the Ambrose’s say they hope to connect the audience with the artists and facilitate a space where community members have the opportunity to get to know the “intimacy of the work that goes into the creation of live music.”
While the concerts are predominantly jazz, they have hosted a tango and classical based recital in the past. When organizing the concerts, the Ambrose’s place emphasis on telling the story and presenting the history behind each performance, piece or composer.
“The greatest part of any gig is either the hanging before the gig and the hang after and that’s what we really wanted people to experience coming into the setting,”said Vaughn.
“Not only just the music but the comradery and the developing of relationships and lifelong relationships and doing that through our music.”
With each concert, the Ambrose’s incorporate a diverse set of musicians including musicians of color, white musicians and female musicians in hopes of inspiring young artists.
“It’s important to us that our community sees themselves on stage… and we really want the kids in our community to see themselves on stage because it’s hard to inspire young artists when they don’t see anybody that looks like them,” said Robyn.
The couple says their goal for the future of the Yellow Door Concert Series it to keep the church as a home base while also expanding to other venues in the DC Metro area. They also hope to continue to grow the youth involvement in their concerts and sponsor young people to go to camp or give scholarships to youth who wish to pursue performing arts.
“We’re trying to grow our nonprofit and just trying to do as much as we can for the community and for the young people, because the young people are the most important part because they are going to be the torch bearers to continue this art form,” said Vaughn.