The orchestra has become an institution where the rituals of attending a concert have replaced a transcendent musical experience. Unfortunately, with the limited rehearsal time and a long season of uninspired programming it’s easy for a musician to feel that he is not any more special than a plumber. When going to a concert, being a savvy shopper can do you some good. If you look at your concert schedule you have many types of concerts to attend; First Nights, Thursday Masterworks, Featured Soloists, and my current Los Angeles favorite, Casual Fridays. This entertainment oriented marketing approach is akin to putting “old wine in new bottles”.
A musical performance has three main levels; physical, mental, and emotional. Physical is knowing the notes, rhythms, dynamics, articulation and intonation. Mental is blend and balance, dynamics, phrasing which lead a high level of nonverbal communication between the musicians and the conductor. After the first two are accomplished musicians can have that emotional performance where the wall between the performers and audience is removed.
How do you find a concert that will change your life? A good orchestra probably has 4-5 times a season when the magic happens. If it was every night it wouldn’t be as special, but these are the most important performances to attend. A technically proficient performance compared to another performance that touches you down to the bone is life changing. Like sex and the search for the Holy Grail it’s hard to talk about unless you have been there.
Keeping tabs on music bloggers and performers is a start. If you are lucky enough to have musician friends, keep in touch and have them send emails the next time a real special performance comes around. Keep online and keep an eagle eye out for that next diamond in the rough. If you are reading this, you are in the right place. Pass it around, promote through your friends, and put it out through email. Attending an earth shattering performance should be the goal for everybody.
The next time you take a friend to the orchestra, point out that although the night will be insightful and entertaining they might be in for a “surprise”. The search for these special performances is worth the effort.
all of our problems disappear
the audience is transported
those moments make life worth living
– Paul Bailey