Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Engaging the Audience

When I used to write "program" notes for my chamber group's performances they were actually listening notes.  I sought to involve the audience in the same kind of listening that we performers had to undertake in order to play the music -- we were an unlikely combination of timbres and we had an unfashionable habit of playing music we had never heard anyone else play, whether Renaissance pieces or newly composed works.

By drawing the listeners' attention to the fine points of ensemble rather than to historical or theoretical irrelevancies, we developed their interest in our programming at the same time that we improved their ensemble musicianship.

It worked really well as long as it lasted.

Like all good things, it could not last forever.  The invasion of Sovietized stratification killed the sort of spontaneity that prompted our very existence.  Suddenly you either were or were not good enough and  conformist enough. It was all downhill from there.