It’s December and for musicians that means a lot of concerts. Last week we gave our two big holiday pops concerts entitled “A Celebration of Christmas.” These concerts have been taking place on the second Friday (now Thursday and Friday) of December since 1989. That is quite a long time for a concert event to continue on. Each year we start getting ready in November and although the format and “feel” of the concerts has changed over the years it is still the event that many Annapolitans mark the beginning of their holiday season by. I would have say that this concert is the way that I start my holiday season too. The audiences are great and the cheery mood is palpable. Over the years I have tried to figure out what the people love about this concert and I have finally decided that they love the way music brings them together.
Think about it, a packed theater with hundreds of people you don’t know, or maybe you do know them… all there for the same reason: to hear some music. But there is something more. When we come to a concert there is an instant sense of community created as you join with other people who are there for the same reasons as you. While the specifics may differ from person to person, some are there to hear a specific work, others are there for the overall experience, all are there because music has brought them together. For an hour or two, all in the room, performers, and audience alike are joined in a wonderful and unique way. One really cannot exist without the other. In order for a performance to occur, there needs to be an “audience.” Without a performance of some kind an audience is just a “mob”, little different from the throngs now at malls and shopping centers near you!
This relationship between the performer and the audience, is the essence (or should be) of what we do as performers. This is not say we should pander to or court the whims of the audience but rather we need to make sure that we are engaged and committed to what we are performing. When we achieve this, the results can be stunning!
This weekend we will present three concerts featuring Handel’s enduring masterpiece “Messiah” followed by carols and other music for the season. The music is beautiful and moving. I’ve been conducting “Messiah” for many years and each year I find something new about the piece and in many ways feel like I am re-discovering it. It is a piece that never ceases to amaze me. I love the rehearsals on “Messiah” because it is like visiting an old friend. But when the audience comes in from the cold and sits down to share these concerts and sing carols with us at the end, it adds an extra element that helps to make our concerts in December special.
So when you go to a concert this December, maybe we will all sit a little closer, smile more quickly, listen more attentively, greet each other more warmly and remember that the things that bring us together (in this case a concert) are far greater than those that separate us!