Saturday, December 13, 2014

Run the Risk - Always

Contrary to what marching band leaders and other music teachers say whose livelihood depends on your obeying them, it is very often a better idea to not be together than to slavishly pound out correct beats all the time.

Last night my son and I hosted one of our periodic Bach cantata evenings: A whole slough of players showed up despite pouring rain with natural horns, oboes da caccia, flutes, strings, even a double bass which came all the way from Brooklyn!  I knew some, not all of the guests: some were friends of invited friends - the more the merrier. 

After thanking everyone for having the courage to show up at the home of a stranger in the company of who-knows-who to risk playing some of the most engaging music that exists to what standard (? ) who could say in advance....after thanking everyone I said merely that the purpose of the evening was not to emulate recordings of Bach but to have a blast.  Don't worry about right notes or wrong, beats or not, just get into it.

It was music that none of us knew except for the familiar aria, Sheep May Safely Graze.  At one moment, in response to a tenor struggling with some pretty florid tenor lines, one of the amateur players suggested we take a slower tempo.  "No, no!" responded an experienced professional, "that would ruin everything!?  So on we flew.  It was hilarious.

I dreamed about that aria all night and am still laughing.  From the Hunting Cantata, it was obviously (in hindsight) Mr. Hunter himself getting tossed about by his galloping steed.  I wouldn't have missed it for all the world.