You know, in the same way Columbus discovered America. Holy moly is it fun.
I was wildly excited to hear that Joshua Bell (world famous violinist) would be repeating his metro stunt/social experiment and playing, this time with a heads-up to DC area commuters. His first public performance, seeming like a busker during rush hour in a busy DC metro station while playing his millions-dollar violin, was a chance to see if people in the midst of their busy lives and routine commute would be jarred into experiencing the present moment if some of the best music in the world was presented to them as a gift.
So, this past Tuesday, on a day that was stressful (see, metro debacle #523304989024398024) I looked forward to the beautiful, soothing, classical music being performed by a top notch expert in his field. I uber’d my way to Union Station, awash with expectation to meditate upon the masters. To my deflation, I was met by hoards of people - some intentionally there to experience the performance, others perhaps being inadvertently wedged in the largest people sandwich I have been squished in for quite awhile. This situation was not helping my PTSD post-metro madness earlier that morning.
Before the event, I read the WaPo article I linked to earlier, and was baffled at Joshua’s (yes, I imagine we are on a first name basis), reaction to the first experiment. His seeming disappointment in the episode led me to want to go and support him and his goal for the second performance even more so.
This is the part ahead of the article that I just couldn’t understand:
But there’s something in the way he sighs as he talks about the original experiment that gives away why, after all the attention he received from it, he wants a do-over.
What he sees in the video of the event isn’t what bothers him; he sort of expected that people would be too busy to stop. It’s what he hears that he doesn’t like.
Bell says he performs best when all the pressure is on, when hundreds of people are paying hundreds of dollars to hear him play music that is hundreds of years old. It warrants perfection.
“You really should be able to hear a pin drop in the audience, for the magic of Bach to happen,” Bell says. “That was not happening when everyone was rushing by, making noise.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think the event fulfilled his wishes (I’m hoping he writes somewhere about the experience). More from the WaPo preview piece:
He knows he can’t expect that kind of quiet Tuesday at Union Station, where he was invited to put on the event. But he’s hoping that with a crowd there to hear him, the magic will still happen. He can craft the story’s epilogue.
Sure, people noticed…a LOT of people (see below), but I wonder…
Thoughts that went through my head as I stood in this massive people puddle: ”Where is he?!?!?! Why is everyone talking so loudly? If we only ALL were as quiet as possible, we may all get to enjoy some music.”
After about 10 minutes of nausea-inducing crowd noise and smells, I jetted outside and caught a cab back to work. My driver was playing the classical channel.
Peace at last.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.