Monday, August 20, 2012

Beware of the circle game


Two immensely satisfying musical experiences in eight days: Jing Zhao playing Bach’s Cello Suites in Norwich, and the Wu Quartet playing Britten, Peteris Vasks and Schubert in Cratfield. Musicianship of the highest order links both concerts, but so do several other attributes. All the artists were young players not yet sucked onto the celebrity treadmill. Both venues were small sacred/spiritual spaces - the Swedenborgian Chapel in Norwich and St Mary’s Church, Cratfield - with intimate and involving acoustics. And both concerts were presented by non-professional promoters. By contrast mainstream classical music remains fixated on the virtuous circle of big agent, big artist, big venue, and big audience. All of which reminds me of the Sufi fable The Conference of the Birds. Here is the irreplaceable Bernard Levin’s précis of the fable from his book Conducted Tour:
The birds go to seek their mysterious king, the Simorg. Their journey is beset by terrible hardship, amid which some die, some desert, some turn back, some lose heart. When the survivors reach their goal, it is to learn the world’s most profound and vital truth. They are told that they have carried the Simorg with them all the time, and they realise that the treasures which we believe lies across cruel wastes, boundless oceans, towering mountains and dreadful valleys really lies within our own hearts.
I must hasten to point out that the header image does not portray either of the concert venues! It was taken by me in 2007 in another intimate and involving performance space, the Chapelle St Alexis, Malaucène, France, and the murals are the work of Michael Bastow. Photo is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2012, any other copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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