Sunday, January 25, 2015

Playing for First-time Listeners

One of the greatest pleasures a musician can enjoy is knowing that there are entirely fresh ears among the audience.  Last night I enjoyed the presence of two such.  Young adults, neither of whom listen to what we call classical music and certainly not live.  I knew they were coming but did not make the program with them in mind.

The program included two of the most serious late works I know of, both by Mozart: the A minor Rondo, K 511, and the Adagio in B minor, K. 504, composed in 1787-88.  Whereas I might have expected them to fidget, they did not.  These pieces were interspersed with contrasting pieces, mostly dances or dance-like (except for a couple of Bach Fugues) so there was ample occasion to relax into slightly more familiar modes of music.

One of the new listeners is a dancer whom I met at the swimming pool.  I have been exploring musical expression of the Martha Graham gesture of straining the head and arms forward while pulling back with the solar plexus.  Sure enough, the gesture was heard and described in great detail. I would not be surprised if the combination of a first-time listener and dancer made it come to life.