Thursday, December 8, 2011

stop and smell the roses... or, listen to the violin

In 2007 the Washington Post had an article about a professional classical violinist who played in one of the metro stations in D.C. during the morning rush hour, as an experiment of sorts. This musician who can command upwards of $100 for a decent seat at a concert made about $32 for 45 minutes of playing 6 classical pieces, including Bach's Chaconne. Very few people stopped to listen. Nearby, people were lining up to buy lottery tickets instead. Some people did throw pennies and loose change into his violin case. Finally, a passerby who recognized the classical pieces threw in a $5 bill.

The article brought up some interesting perspectives of beauty. What is beauty, anyway? What is art? What kind of context do we need to truly appreciate art and beauty? Do the surroundings matter - i.e., a chaotic metro station vs a plush concert hall? What would it take for us the recognize the diamond in the rough? And I also thought, what would I have done? Would I have stopped to listen? What if I were on my way to a job interview that morning?

It reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption (I know, this is the second time I've written about it in just a few weeks, but I just watched it again for the nth time recently). The protagonist, Andy, was working in the prison warden's office, and seized the opportunity to play a record of a soprano and transmit it over the speaker system - making it loud and clear throughout the whole prison and grounds. All the prisoners - hardened by their own crimes, their incarceration experience - stopped in their tracks to listen to the music, looking up at the speakers as though it were a voice coming from heaven. It made me cry the first time I watched it, thinking about the emotions running through the characters' souls during this scene - perhaps, feelings of hope... but if nothing else, wonder.

Anyway, an interesting read. Click here.

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