1 AM. Bypassed immediate post-concert blog post in favor of a beer with the band. Back home at last, so just a few quick thoughts to end the day.
Shostakovich- I think the message got through. No coughing at the end, instead complete silence as the orchestra really found an amazing pianissimo, and the last chord was breathtakingly in tune. We had a long, long silence at the end before a very enthusiastic response. However, much earlier in the movement someone was unwrapping a candy so loudly and for so long that I nearly turned around.
Afterwards in the bar I was talking with a mixture of musicians and audience members. One woman, who said she was quite shaken by the piece, said “the why and what for are so much harder to think of today, when we’re back at war.”
The sad conclusion of the entire table was that we’ve learned nothing. Why and for what? Because and for nothing. More people need to hear this music.
I’m usually not in a social state of mind in rehearsals and need to head home afterwards, so with the SMP, the only chance we really get to visit and chat is after the concerts. In addition to being good musicians, they’re an interesting and brilliant bunch of people.
As soon as I said my goodbyes, I was plunged into an entirely different world. Guildford is a beautiful old market town, but on a Saturday night, like so many towns and cities across Britain, it’s a violent and crazy place. Just yards outside the concert hall were fist fights, road rage, and all matter of mayhem.
We’re hearing a lot from the government about how they’re going to “get tough” on this kind of behavior, but there were an army of cops on the street, and it was still chaos. At some point, adding hundreds of cops to a riot just means more insanity as they try their best to break things up and calm things down.
The real question is what happens to all these people between Monday morning and Friday evening. Where does all this rage come from? What’s happening to society? Guildford, like Cardiff and London and Manchester can give you the feeling of being on the brink of a complete abyss of violence and social breakdown.
Then again, perhaps it’s always been this way. Muriel, one of our cellists, said it well about the forgotten lessons of the war years. “Man is man. Humanity never changes.” Humanity may not, but humans can change. I’ve got to believe that. Why and for what? The meditation on the question is the only possible answer.
c. 2007 Kenneth Woods