The private social club where I work has a monthly concert. They always bring in amazingly talented performers, but the works that are programmed on the recitals aren't always particularly exciting.
I was looking forward to tonight's concert. I had heard nothing but great things about the pianist who was performing. My mood changed when I saw what he had programmed: four fantasies/fantasias by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Mozart, and Beethoven. The Beethoven was - you guessed it - "Moonlight Sonata." I can't remember exactly what the other three were, because every time I try to remember I fall asleep.
Ok, that was a little harsh. I'm sure all four are great pieces, and they're definitely four of the powerhouse composers in piano literature. But couldn't one of them have been something a little more exciting? Perform three of those four - any three - and something else. (Well, maybe not any three. I'll take Schumann or Beethoven over Mendelssohn or Mozart any day, but that's just my taste. And do we really need to hear Moonlight Sonata again? The piece that anybody who plays piano at least decently well has learned at some point or other? But I digress...)
I know the pianist was programming for the audience. The average age of members of the club is 71.5. We can probably safely assume that the average age of these concertgoers was pretty close to 71.5. These people are looking for things that they're familiar with. I'm not asking for Ligeti to be programmed- that probably wouldn't go over very well with this crowd. At least pick something that they might not all have heard before: Something by a more obscure composer whose work is similar to the others you're playing. Something from a composer with a slightly broader tonal vocabulary. Go ahead and keep it tonal, just be a little more adventurous. Make those 71.5 year olds think a little bit. Make them talk about the music. Sure, they might not love it, but they'll probably be more likely to remember that piece compared to the others.
Everyone complains that nobody will go see performances of newer music. That's why we have to be ninjas and trick them into hearing newer music by surrounding the newer pieces with the safety-blanket pieces that they'll hear on the radio on the way home and in their homes when they pop in their CDs. Maybe one of these newer pieces will catch their interest. Then they'll be more likely to listen to things more like that, and things that are another step out of their comfort zone.
I know this rant has been made many times - most more artfully than this one. I'm just particularly disappointed about the concert tonight. Such talent, and he didn't do a thing to further an
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