And so it seems that classical music provokes strong feelings. I should be pleased really, for when it shuffles out and nobody notices, that’s when it ends. Not with a bang, not with a choral climax, not with a final joyous chord, but with a descent into a silence once filled with sound. Opinions, no matter how polarised will never be the enemy here, the enemy is indifference.
The audience matters and plays as much a part as the performers in a way. I see you. Every night, I see you, and you make a difference. To see the orchestra in rehearsal is to see a work in progress, a lump of rock being chiseled by the sculptor, the build up of colours in a portrait; but come the performance, the final work is revealed, the rough rock now smooth and defined, the numerous colours merge together to reveal a previously hinted at depth. Move a sculpture from the artists studio to a plinth in a square and it becomes a spectacle, a picture from easel to gallery can become a masterpiece despite the fact that they are unchanged from completion to viewing. A symphony though, is different. Nobody in the hall knows what will happen at the first downbeat. An audience may come with expectations, previous heights which they hope can be relived, bettered even; they may come for the first time with no preconceptions - or many. The performers hope to create a culmination of a week of rehearsals...but none of us know for sure where the evening will take us.
I was at Abbey Road studios last night. I didn’t play a note. It wasn’t one of those tedious sessions where you sit for hours waiting to play a note which they never get around to, I was there to talk. People who know me, know that the only time I stop talking is when my flute is on my face, but on this occasion, I was there to talk about the history of Abbey Road Studios and the LSO’s part in it. Such is the aura of the place, a place that isn’t usually open to the general public, that I really didn’t need to say anything at all. When you have a group of people who love music inside those walls, and they are surrounded by photos of the legends who have recorded there, in the corner is the old mixing desk from Sargeant Pepper and a piano used in A Day in the Life, and the Hammond organ from Dark Side of the Moon - well, most people just sit with a grin on their face and soak it up. A man who walks in as a CEO, once through the door is transported back to being the teenager in his bedroom dreaming of stardom once again. Any words or light shows or virtual reality are unnecessary. The zebra crossing, the studio, the history and the instruments speak for themselves and oh how I wish the walls of studio 2 could talk! As producer/engineer Jonathan Allan, who records us regularly in studio 1 said last night, “We record anything here...as long as it’s good.” With a long list of names that span time and genre, Elgar, Menuhin, Bartok, Prokofiev, Glen Miller, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellars, Star Wars, Harry Potter...the list is endless and proves his point.
If music speaks for itself and needs little embellishment, then why is it that the classical music ‘business’ seems intent on continually reinventing itself?
This is my personal blog. All views are my own and are not endorsed by any of the organisations I work for.