Oh, people. People.
I have a brand new crush.
Every now and then, I go and see a classical concert with my parents. Quite often, we go and see the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
(beware: auto-play music on that link), because they play period instruments and that interests my dad - plus, they are a fabulous orchestra. That's who we went to see this afternoon - playing a selection of Mozart music at King's Place.
The concert was amazing
- and a lot of that, for me, had to do with the conductor.Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan Cohen.
I was lucky enough to be sitting in the balcony, towards the stage, so I had a good view of the orchestra from an unusual angle, and apparently, that makes a huge
difference to my appreciation of the concert.
Until this afternoon, I confess, I had not given much thought to the role of the conductor in a concert performance. (Even though I have been in
plenty of concert performances, at an extremely amateur level, and of course the conductor makes a huge difference when you're a performer.) But watching Jonathan Cohen conduct Mozart this afternoon made me think serious thoughts.
About how important mood-setting is - for the performers and the audience - and what a huge job that is. That was one thread.
But the thing that I really came away with, I don't know if I can describe properly. I'm going to give it a shot, and maybe I can clarify in comments, if people have questions.
This is about passion.
It's about really engaging with the music. About living it. About being 100% in it, and loving every second. That's what Cohen was doing this afternoon. I've seen engagement like that in other places - on the dancefloor in clubs, for example - but I don't think I've ever seen anyone else conduct Mozart and having it feel like... like it was childeric
thrashing to the Beastie Boys.
For me, passion can be dark and obsessive, or it can be violent and angry.
But for others, it can be light and lively and sweet and fun.
It can be a dance. ("Dance", oddly enough, is probably going to be my theme for 2011. So this was appropriate and well-timed.)
And that's what I want in my life. More dance. More dancing with my passions. More lightness, more fun, more play. More sweetness.
This man doesn't just stand in front of his orchestra and wave his arms about. (I'm sure no conductor does that. But this was different from any conductor I've seen before.) This man conducts with his whole body. He conducts with his eyebrows.
(I have this thing about eyebrows. Ahem, never mind.) You could see, frequently, the moments of, "oooh, I love this bit!" You could see the passion and the love for the music and the love of creating this great complex wall of sound and all the emotion that went with it. His communication with the orchestra. The way he performed for the orchestra. His sheer skill.
The stupid moment, between movements in the piano concerto, that really impressed me: he was about to start the next movement, and someone who had been out of the hall or was late came in. He waited for the person to sit down, then started up again, immediately that person was in their seat. And he did all of this without turning around
- the whole thing was done by ear. He didn't need to look to know that his audience wasn't settled, and then to know that his audience was
That's what I call knowing what you're doing.
Did I mention that I have an enormous
As you might see if you follow the link above, it does not hurt that he's fairly easy on the eye. (But there are plenty of people who are physically "my type", who don't push my buttons, because they don't have the passion thing going on. That's what really floats my boat.) Jumping and dancing around on stage and dragging the music out of that orchestra, that incredible orchestra, with his whole body. With his face and hands and legs. I could not take my eyes off him for two hours.
I'm officially stunned and flabbergasted.
He's truly incredible.
Oh, and he plays the piano and the cello, too.
I'll be dropping dead, over here.