A few years ago I posted this link on this blog. It was an article in the Washington Post by Gene Weingarten, columnist, who wrote a regular feature titled Pearls Before Breakfast. In the article he conducted a social experiment of sorts – if a world famous musician played in a public place – the L’Enfant Plaza at DC – dressed like any other mendicant, what would you do? Would you stop to listen? Would you leave some money? Would you notice at all? I loved the premise of the article and even more than that, I loved how the author used language to describe Joshua Bell and his performance. Since then I’ve wanted to watch the performance myself.
Joshua Bell performed at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville yesterday. And I found out just by accident. But I went all the same, with SZ who’s a musician herself. Joshua Bell was accompanied on the piano by Jeremy Denk, who I’d never heard of before and was really really good! There was a lot of chemistry between the two men and their instruments conversed with each other, sometimes leading and sometimes following. Joshua Bell was every bit the way he was described in that article – he was spirited and animated in the way he played his violin, he rocked from side to side, stood on his tip toes, stamped his feet, plucked the strings of his violin… I don’t know a ton about classical music, but I loved how he kept the audience engaged by the theatrics. His pianist was much the same and they took cues from each other’s body language. And I learnt something new about performance etiquette – no one coughed/sneezed/sniffled while he played, saving it for the silence between sequences. The encore was a beautiful little piece by Fritz Kreisler based on a composition by Dvorak.
SZ and I grabbed some dinner at the downtown mall before heading in for the concert. All in all, a wonderful evening, with great company, and the excitement that comes with seeing the flesh and blood version of something I read about three years ago.
Update: Here's a review of the concert from a local newspaper, The Hook. I think the writer does more justice than I did with this post! Hat tip to SZ.