Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Speaking of culture

So the next time you're walking through a crowded subway station in Washington D.C. and you hear a fabulous violinist playing his heart out for donations, stop and listen. Because it might just be JOSHUA BELL, you philistine!

Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.

A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.

Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

Heartbreaking.

H/T Patrick, who's off his Lenten blog-fast.

10 comments:

Goliath said...

Who is Joshua Bell?

barbfromcincy said...

Awesome story....I can't believe he brought his $3.5 million Stradivarius to the subway...obviously it was perfectly safe. I'm sitting here listening to the audio of his performance...absolutely beautiful despite all the noise of those Philistines...hehe...
Hope you're having a blessed day!

PB said...

I think this makes a point that even something as important as music still has its time and place.

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Great article! (Just to make you ill again) one of the things I enjoyed in some of the cities of Europe was the wonderful buskers. Some music students from Eastern Europe seem to come across to make money out of busking in the summer. Once I heard a group from the Paris Philharmonic playing in the subway there.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

.... the article SAYS they're on their way to work, so they don't really have a whole lot of time to stop and listen, do they?

mrsdarwin said...

Of course, there are times when one is genuinely in a hurry and can't stop for anything, but not even to glance over to see the source of such fantastic music?

But for the record, I should state that my heart breaks not so much because the hoi polloi paid no attention to fine art, but because I'll never get a chance to hear Joshua Bell for free, and I doubt I'll ever get to hear him live in concert either. Sob...

Goliath said...

Heh...well MrsD., maybe the performance wasn't as noteworthy as you might imagine. Seems a world renowned musician with a Stradivarius playing for change in a crowded subway might sound like any other guy who is pretty good with a fiddle to those who rush past him on their way to work, maybe the hoi polloi can be forgiven this time - even those of Aegean descent.


Hi Barb. ;)

Jennifer F. said...

OK, I am officially a longtime DarwinCatholic reader now because I can always tell which posts were written by you and which were written by Darwin without having to look at the footer at the bottom.

I saw this article, too, and realized that I totally would have been one of the people who breezed right by, probably asking the guy to keep it down because I was on my cell phone.

Darwin said...

I can see how I might have breezed by if I was in the middle of a conversation or already late for an meeting -- but in that I guess I see part of the problem. It seems like one ought to notice that kind of thing going on, and make the time to listen.

Faith said...

I didn't read the whole article but the impression this article gives is so unfair. I have walked through that metro station many times. Massive numbers of people are truly rushing to work and appointments. Now if they had put Mr. Bell up in a park at lunch time he'd have had thousands of people listening. It was like they deliberately put him in the worst place possible at the worst time so they could dis on the lack of appreciation of beauty. There are so many real problems with society. I don't understand the temptation to manufacture them! The classical music culture of the Washington DC is a vibrant one. But most people need to earn a living and want to enjoy beauty when they have the time.