Friday, April 06, 2007

Deja Vu and the Colgrass triangle

Before tonight's performance of Deja Vu, his piece for four percussionists and orchestra, Michael Colgrass had some nice words of introduction. He was speaking via Internet2 from Toronto. He told a story about learning that he had just received a Pulitzer Prize for the work, back in 1977 - a young AP reporter called and, after he replied that no, he hadn't heard anything about it - asked for his spontaneous reaction! He said that he had always thought that prizes were like buckshot in a crowd; anyone can get hit. And that he thought his father would be pleased, since at that point he still didn't really understand what Michael Colgrass did for a living.

My favorite part of Colgrass' comments though, which I'm paraphrasing from my memory, was this:
I have never thought music was about prizes and recognition though. To me, it's about relationships, between a composer and performer, and the performer and audience. Within that triangle is where all the interesting and fulfilling aspects of music take place. And you, the audience, in many ways are the most important part of that triangle. So I thank you and I hope you enjoy this performance of Deja Vu.
As he finished speaking, I looked out on the audience and I could see many of them smiling and reacting positively - I really think it set a wonderful tone for the performance, which was completely engaging for me. I think I'll definitely steal Michael Colgrass' triangle idea, next time I introduce a piece to an audience!

Michael Colgrass has an excellent website with many writings - I especially enjoyed his "Letter to a Young Composer."

1 comment:

gustinho said...

AFAIK it's an idea of modern musicology that the actual meaning of a piece lies somewhere in the middle beetween the composers's will and the understanding of the audience. So after all this meaning changes every time as the the audience changes : I find this a particularly fascinating idea.
Congratulations for your audition in Calgary and sorry for my poor english !