experience is becoming more rare. Even I, a cinephile, watch more films at home
on the sofa than at the cinema any more.
and thus more precious. Two-thousand people in Powell Hall listening, watching,
experiencing, engaging in a performing art form that calls for the precision
and deft maneuvers and invisible communication of tightrope walkers--although in
this case it is 100 tightrope walkers on the same wire together.
audiences need more than the experience itself?
the sense of the collective experience be reinforced? It needs to be, for such
experiences are endangered species, being extinguished by the growth and
proliferation of the individual, Google-guided experience.
notes are best as narratives--the telling of stories that audiences share, whether
they read them online, on the page, before or after the concert. Narratives
that don't necessarily take you into
the music--only the music can do that--but at best runs parallel. Here is a
journey I have taken in this music, the author's approach may be, let me share
it with you, and you, and you.
as simple as "Elgar was playing a tune one day..." or "Beethoven was looking for
a hit..." or "I was befuddled by the music of Ligeti until..." Music is a human
utterance, made from a given place and time for both a known audience (the
composer's present time) and an unknown audience (our present time). Music is
made to compete with rivals, to seduce, to make money. Telling the story of how
music is made out of need and desire connects to all our human needs and
desires. It is made relevant (another word I've never much cared for, but after
a life of working in the arts, I know it's a word I have to own up to).
notes may be thought of less as guides or information providers or mediators or
"greatness" allocators. Program notes may help to establish the moment of the
performance itself, the relevance of the moment--the moment as conduit between
time past, present and future; the moment of shared experience--and may serve as
a connector. We all perceive differently, but somehow we also create a shared
reality out of all those singular perceptions. The authorial voice, the
storyteller, may bind us, or spellbind us: stories of Messiaen's birds, Steve
Reich's trains, Thomas Adès' ecstasy trips. Narrative has the power to help us
connect. It always has.
voice that takes you alongside the roaring river of music. It leads you to a
bridge. You perceive all the sound, all the motion of that river. You recognize
its full power. The voice dares you: Jump in.
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