On a recent Friday, I saw the boss of my band (who studied with one of the world’s top teachers for his instrument but doesn’t play much lately) pick up an instrument that had been sitting out and start playing Bach. He was obviously enjoying it very much--and (without him seeing me lurking in the background of the stage) seeing his joy reflexively brought a smile to my face. I felt a real sense of joy in seeing someone so happily playing (and rather well despite his significant time off the instrument!).
It made me think: shouldn’t we as classical musicians bring that same sense of joy to our performances? For most of us, it can become difficult to feel joy playing the same piece for the thousandth time or when working under joyless people. Yet, there must be some way for us to rekindle/ maintain that joy. Joy in the performers creates joy in the audience. As more audiences experience joy, there is more joy in society. Music works with all emotions, but shouldn’t our concerts ultimately bring joy to all participants, reinvigorating them in facing the ordeals of everyday life? Perhaps this is the ultimate mission of music (and the arts?): to remind ourselves and our audiences that life is worth living. The infectious joy of a musical performance is an antidote to nihilism. In order to share joy with others, we must first feel it stirring within our hearts. When was the last time you felt joy, that uplift in your heart where it’s hard to stand still? As musicians, our greatest gift to others is the song in our hearts.