My big realization from New Music 101 is how musicians should talk more to their audiences
I attended the last of four New Music 101 lecture-concerts yesterday by the Toronto Reference Library and the Canadian Music Centre. They had asked me to host the series and wouldn't take no for an answer when I said I didn't feel like I knew enough to stand up in front of everybody.
I'm glad I ended up hosting, because it taught me that, having made the effort to make plans and leave home, an audience arrives open and expectant.
Over the four sessions, which contained far more music than words, I was also struck by how difficult it is for many musicians to speak about what they do.
Anyone who seriously pursues music is taught to express themselves through their instrument. But throwing out some words is often just as valuable. As one audience member pointed out after the event last night, it helps humanize the performance as well as the music itself.
Non-classical musicians seem to understand this better. Pop, roots and jazz concerts usually feature quite a bit of banter between performer(s) and audience.
I think every music school should offer a half course that has nothing to do with history, theory or performance practice, and everything to do with how to talk to an audience. it might do wonders for all genres of art music -- from Early to as-yet-unnamed.
Among the replies I received on yesterday's blog question was Bill McBirnie's suggestion of American composer Morten Lauridsen's 1994 setting of "O Magnum Mysterium" (O Wonderful Mystery). It's a sublime piece of contemporary a cappella choral writing, performed herre by the Brussels Chamber Choir under director Helen Cassano: