Don’t Listen to the Music!

At this point in my career, I see music differently than 30 years ago. I view the listening of music more of a very personal experience. In fact, I don’t want my audience to listen to the music. To me that’s too passive and only half the story. What is behind the music? Which events in the composer’s life are reflected in his or her compositions. We need to dig deeper into the music.

Recently, I sat through a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. How can such an iconic piece not be engaging, thrilling, emotional? But it wasn’t. There was something missing. In fact, the first composition on the program, Schoenberg’s 9 minute A Survivor From Warsaw was more startling. The piece connected with all of us-we actively lived the dark side of humanity-the shadow of mankind. So why wasn’t there any light with the Beethoven? The conductor with the orchestra did not connect the dots…they left us hanging, as we were hoping for a most uplifting thrill ride. It never happened.

It is that communication- the triad-conductor, orchestra, audience which is so vital. We are all in this together. Not to be led like sheep and told what to feel but to stop listening and bathe in the light individually. That’s chemistry. It doesn’t happen often enough but when it does-it’s the best feeling, the best accomplishment. Don’t just listen to the music but “be present” with the music, the composer, the orchestra, and the conductor. It’s a journey we take together but we experience it individually.

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