Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Show Must Go On

By the end of this week, I will have played in 4 concerts, and the majority of my peers couldn’t care less. (That’s right, couldn't, but that grievance is for another time) 

It kills me that because of the violin on my shoulder and the Beethoven symphony on the stand in front of me, lots of people won’t come out and support us, because classical music has this reputation for being boring and stuffy. I wish I knew how to show these people the utter ecstasies and heartbreaks that symphonies can conjure, how the right piece of music can touch your very soul, bring you to tears and leave you gasping for breath with 3 more movements yet to experience. I genuinely pity those who have never sat amongst an orchestra, never felt the utter emotion of being enveloped in the sound of the ensemble, every player as one, as everything slots in to place in that moment, and every other care in the world has quietly slipped away, leaving what can only be described as this ball of emotion simultaneously in the pit of your stomach, and rising in your throat, as the tangible sense of unity hangs in the air.

The high of a good performance is incomparable, and it’s not even bad for your health. Well, except for the odd muscle strain and the mental strain of some rehearsals that really feel like they might never end, but as with all “mornings after the night before” you naively concur that you will never let it happen again and pull your ostrich costume, complete with protective headgear, out of the wardrobe on your way to the nearest sand dune, because music just means that much to you.

 Musicians are a special breed, it’s true, but music is one of the simplest pleasures on Earth, because all that is required is that you just sit back, engage your ears, and listen. Classical music is not hard work unless you consciously make it that way, by closing your mind to it. You don’t have to be a musician to appreciate music, you really don’t, because sure, you can delight in the technicalities of a piece of music, but you can also immerse yourself in notes that sound wonderful when played together, and marvel at the percussion section going hammer and tongs at the bass drum with a look of glee so pure that its memory will continue to make you smile for weeks.  

I have met friends for life through music, which makes it really hard to try and get friends to come out and support concerts, because they’re pretty much all queuing up there with me, ready to go on stage, so we need other people to come and watch us play, because even though playing to an empty room is still playing, it’s massively disheartening. Think Olympic athletes having trained for years to reach their peak, only to have to struggle to hear themselves over the deafening silence, and hurdle tumble weed on their way round an entirely empty stadium on race day.

So I urge you to support local ensembles, go out and share in their joy and passion, and reap the rewards of their weeks and weeks of hard work.

Classical music isn’t cool, but it shouldn’t have to be. 

Classical music has nothing to prove, nor does it need to jump up and down screaming for attention; it should just be luxuriated in regularly, and without regret, because it deserves it, and so do you, and because it really, truly is good for the soul.