06. April 2010 · 8 comments · Categories: Quotes

When I go to the theatre or the opera or the ballet or a concert, I most emphatically do not want to see performers who are just like anyone else. I want to see and hear artists who represent the best in their field, I want to be wowed by tremendous performances, to be moved. I don’t want ordinary; I want extraordinary. And I don’t particularly want the performers breaking the fourth wall with a view to showing me how “ordinary” they really are or to tell me what it all means to them. That would spoil the magic. With good reason we never ask this of other artists in the performing arts (the dancers, the singers, the actors), but it’s continually being suggested of classical musicians that they should do this – in performances.

-Yvonne Frindle

RTWT (I think it’s worth it.)


  1. I’m confused by what seems to be mixed messages in the blog you linked to. The main message of the blog entry seems to be that the blogger doesn’t want performers to be ordinary people. However, it’s unclear to me whether she thinks it’s bad when the people onstage display their ordinariness in their reactions to the performance.

    Then one commenter spoke of hearing a pianist: the playing was fine, but she didn’t want him to look drained afterwards, she felt shortchanged because he didn’t project an out of the ordinary persona like Nigel Kennedy. I don’t quite get that, maybe I’m misunderstanding.

    I can’t tell when they’re talking about the performers and when they’re talking about performances. I can understand wanting to hear extraordinary performances, but they can’t come from normal humans?

    They don’t want musicians to be like “normal people” is what I’m hearing. They want to be inspired – that’s fine, but are they incapable of being inspired by less than superhuman figures? I find it inspiring to listen to “ordinary” folk who have a different perspective than I; I don’t require them to be on a different plane of existence than myself.

    But maybe I’m just being cranky at the end of the day…how terribly ordinary of me!

  2. I didn’t take it that way, dk, but I just appreciated the fact that this whole “we are just normal people” thing can backfire … people do want to experience something special when they attend a concert. They want to see us involved in what we are doing. I recently sat in the audience when a symphony I know and sort of love was playing and I wasn’t needed. Some people looked as if they’d love to be outa there as quickly as possible. Maybe they just always look bored and uninvolved … dunno! … but that was the impression I got.

    I just opted to take what she wrote differently, I guess. (And maybe I wanted to feel special?!)

    But you can be cranky if you want. You choose!

  3. Yeah, my problem was, I think, that it didn’t seem clearly stated on one side or the other (by more than one person posting there). I have no problem with what you just wrote, for instance. *That* I can understand.

    I don’t want to see performers looking disgusted or bored when I go to see a performance. Exhausted – sure, why not, if they are putting everything they have into a performance that’s not unexpected. I don’t agree with the woman who felt cheated by seeing that. Displaying disappointment with their performance – that will happen sometimes, and though I’d prefer they not be self-indulgent about it, seeing a little disappointment shine through shows a human side. Mind you, I mean a LITTLE!

    Our art is mainly about the audible, unlike the ballet, . Sure, the visual also affects the audience perception – but how far do we want to take that? Will we be required to smile and look happy all the time? Will we start requiring our performers to be svelte, young, and beautiful too? or can they just be ordinary humans who have a talent? For me, displaying “ordinary” aspects is fine, just not disagreeable ones. And I worry that expecting performers to all be exceptional people in all that they do plays into some of the perception of this art as “elitist” and not at all down to earth.

    It’s a matter of walking the line, I guess; and we all have a different idea of where the line belongs.

  4. I don’t think I would ever suggest we should smile all the time … I hope I didn’t give that impression.

    I do think a live performance is visual as well as audible (audial?).

    But all of this is just my opinion. I like the idea of letting people know we are normal people doing our job, but I also want to know that we are doing something mighty special up there. Maybe I can’t have it both ways. Dunno! 🙂

  5. No, you didn’t suggest that. In fact you’ve posted pretty much the opposite in the past, IIRC. Yeah, I think I agree with the wanting it both ways. But then again it’s not necessarily both ways; we are normal people, doing things that are above the “normal” plane. 🙂

    I guess I balk at anything suggesting that we as individuals are on some sort of exalted plane; that enables the attitude of “well, that’s not something I can relate to because it’s just for those heads-in-the-clouds folks [or worse yet, noses-in-the-air]”. Yes, music is amazing and wonderful and miraculous but then again so are many little mundane things in life if you look at them with the right attitude.

    But I have the feeling that I’m increasingly going round in circles and not making a great deal of sense, so I think I’ll just drop this and back away slowly… 😉

  6. It’s funny … because I DO understand what you are saying. And yet there are times when I think, “Well, I’m a musician and isn’t that special?!” So while I say I’m just a normal girl living a normal life I sort of don’t always believe it.


    I’m a walking — okay SITTING — contradiction! Go figure.

    Mostly I just want chocolate.

    Just so you know.

  7. Two words: Trader Joe’s. Pound Plus. Oh wait, that’s four words. And now that I look at what I’ve written, I’m thinking, “yep, pound plus, that’s exactly what it does for me, puts a pound plus on this hip, and a pound plus on that hip, and a few pounds plus on my belly, and…”.

  8. More to love, dk, more to love. That’s what I’ve decided anyway! 😉