the orchestra world

on recognizing artistic effort

I absolutely agree with (and largely lived) everything that Tim writes in his recent blog post. It is so easy to be a musical asshole. Sure, a performance didn’t move you to the core of your being, and constant standing ovations can be annoying – but what does it hurt to recognize the effort that went into a performance of any level of quality. I know that some of my least successful performances were also some of my most hard-fought. Everyone is truly doing the best they can, and you have no idea what happened before the performance, or what will happen after it. Are we losing our basic sense of empathy and humanity? I certainly hope not.

This part especially resonated with me:

So when a fellow performer gets on stage, I smile because I’m witnessing someone opening themselves up and showing what it means to be human. And when they’re done, I now clap loudly, missed notes and all.

Your encouragement of a fellow performer will never cause them to be a worse player. Your endorsement of a fellow musician will never reduce your artistry. You know what it will do? your enthusiastic support of your fellow musician helps the music business grow and thrive. I am absolutely not advocating insincerity, or a lowering of artistic standards. If I don’t leave every performance thinking, “I would have done that differently,” then I will have stopped pushing myself and growing as an artist. On the other hand, it’s okay to clap the loudest at a performance you dislike.

Hat tip to Holly Mulcahy for drawing my attention to this post.

By Charles Noble

I'm the Assistant principal violist of the Oregon Symphony.

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