Friday, January 23, 2009

Looking again, waiting to hear.

First, a little housekeeping- I've finally gone in and fixed the comment settings on blogger so that comments come to my e-mail. My apologies to those who had to wait awhile for their comments to post- that should not be an issue anymore. As can be seen by the last post, one of the best things about blogging is the lively conversation it can create, especially from an engaged and literate readership (that's you). So go ahead, pat yourself on the back.

Finishing the thought behind that last post, while in hindsight I clearly chose a bad example to make my point, I'd like to hear other opinions, about my broader point. Too often, especially in Boston in the past couple of years, I've been frustrated by “performances” where the artists, often some young avant unit, play with no thought whatsoever given to the actual performing of the music beyond simply notes and rhythms- how they look, how they address the audience (or don't). And institutions, including schools, that seem to at least tolerate it, or at the worst encourage it. I don't know if it's ignorance, or some sort of artistic noblesse-oblige or just being dumb, but I've seen it enough recently to be bothered by it, and to wonder about what, if any, are the broader implications. Do we further marginalize the audience for this music when we play this way?

I'm no huge fan of all the rather archaic rituals that surround an orchestra concert- it's too stuffy for me, and often encourages an atmosphere that almost seems to encourage all but the cognizanti to stay away. (Which, I suppose at one time, may have been the whole point) But I feel there is a grave danger in going too far the other way, which I feel like I'm seeing a lot of, more than I'm used to, and much more than I'm comfortable with. Do I care too much about this? Thoughts?

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