When was the last time you went to a performance and actually left deeply moved? For many of us, we talk about how music is the universal language and can move anyone anywhere. Yet, how often have we experienced such a profoundly dramatic effect? When did we last truly feel something during a concert that then lingered with us throughout the rest of the day or the rest of the week?
I think these experiences are much rarer than we acknowledge. In part, we haven’t been to concerts that are actually at the front of creativity for now. Orchestras play pieces that were creative back in the day and then tell us how they were great then and why they’re great now. Here’s the problem: if you have to tell someone why a joke is funny, it’s not funny to the person not laughing no matter how much you try to convince them. Why aren’t you laughing?! This joke is so funny!! If you have to tell someone why a piece of music is great, you’re speaking to their intelligence. They’ll say, “Ok. I see why it’s good now.” But they won’t feel anything. I might suggest that rather than convincing someone to feel something during a concert, we should do the harder creative work of making music that makes people feel something. It’s difficult to predict--and it depends on your audience. You might have to include something that goes against your aesthetic principle. The muse, however, is no tyrant. She herself is a servant to humanity and to our other ideals. Is the music for you or for your audience? Do you inflict your music on them? Or do you invite them to have a potentially life-changing experience? Although we will undoubtedly fail countless times, we have a responsibility to keep working to connect with our audience whoever that might be.