Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Confidence and The Ear

The other evening I attended a performance of stylistically widely-ranging works by various contemporary composers, some young-ish, others no longer with us.  The playing was impressive.

I go to concerts the way some people go to the movies: I want to be overwhelmed, moved, charmed -- in other words, I want to experience something vividly outside of myself.  This means I want to enjoy rather than feel obliged to think.

Enjoying a concert in this way is like enjoying a good meal: something will invariably stand out as special, like the minted rice that accompanied last week's curried chicken dish at a favorite Indian restaurant.  Oddly, what stood out was a short work for two trumpets and French horn by Elliot Carter, written when he was 94.  Convincingly exuberant, terse, witty--it had a lot going for it.

Mainly I left feeling sad that most of the music seemed directed to a small community of like-minded composers/players/listeners.  Insular.

I recall the days when I felt obliged to have reactions to concerts; I no longer do.  I just know what it feels like to have a good time and am grateful whenever I do.