For over fifty years I have listened to a few pieces of music. People have introduced me to some alternatives but, for the most part, I have remained loyally stuck with a limit of a dozen works.
My collection on compact disk is modest by most standards but large enough to warrant the occasional sort by name or composer. There are perhaps four hundred pieces. They are arranged in towers in the living room, unobtrusive.
They are however, merely an indicator of my tastes. A catalogue of forms that I have been interested enough to hear. Some have been a lifestyle theme or background for brief periods. I am not a habitual listener, preferring the spoken word in my home and car.
There is some music that can stop me mid breath however. Some notes and spaces that cause immediate stillness for attention or in preparation of rhythm. There are allegri, arias and arpeggios whose effect transcends mere listening. My breath caught, physical change occurs with quick cessation of movement. Eyes and hands left resting on their last intended object.
At these moments, I am immediately filled with wonder. There are few creative acts that can effect such change in so little time and they are solely physically generated in passion or pain.
Here is another wonder. The composer, removed from us by geographic distance and by time, effecting these and other shifts of physics, brain and mind and adding to the whole by prompting us to ask how this act is made possible in the first place?
It struck me recently that the reward we offer for the composer, performer and conductor's effort is obviously wealth. But on a far more basic plane, we offer another piece of music in return.
I would count amongst the many members of the percussion group, ourselves. The audience makes a response so cogent in reply and measured to the pleasure of the gift received, as to make the small percussive postscript to the piece a gift from them.
No conductor, no bars, no score.
The biggest orchestra in the house and more,
a solo piece in each and every seat.
A coda making every show complete.
Let's hear it for the crowd! In Paris, London and Milan.
Let's hear it for the driver of the minivan
whose first experience of Bruch or Bach
caused havoc as he missed a place to park.
Let's hear it for them.