It was billed as an exciting concert, not to be missed. A brilliant young musician who had been a child prodigy and continued to ‘wow’ audiences with a brilliance of technique that was rarely seen or heard. Thirty years after being thrust into the limelight as an 8 year-old, whose feet could hardly reach the pedals on a grand piano, audiences were amazed at the player’s skill. The pianist gave frequent interviews on radio and TV and magazines regularly featured articles about this ‘genius’ talent.
I was looking forward to this recital even though tickets were very expensive. Some of the big works in the piano repertoire would be included on the program in the large concert hall. There would be a couple of pieces by JS Bach that I had studied in depth years ago. I knew them well, and still love the intricate details and God-given talent of my favourite composer who openly dedicated his life and his music to his Lord. Every note speaks of the composer’s faith.
The capacity audience buzzed with excitement as the orchestra assembled and tuned up. A burst of applause announced the pianist’s entry to the stage. Orchestra and soloist were poised; the conductor’s baton was raised.
Cascades of notes rippled across the keyboard, loud soft, showy, impossibly brilliant. The conductor danced and swayed on his podium, pulling together the 80-odd musicians and the soloist.
As the music ended, most of the audience leaped to their feet, clapping and whistling. ‘Encore! Encore!’
I say most of the audience. Not all, including myself. You know what? I found the whole performance deeply disappointing. I’ll tell you why.
It was not because of a lack of brilliant technique from the pianist but because of a careless attitude. All musicians play the odd wrong note, or lose their place or get out of sync with the orchestra. It happens to the best performer. But here there were many slips and inaccuracies. Some repeated, some seemingly deliberate, if that were possible. There was a distinct feeling of ‘who cares about Bach? It’s me they’ve come to hear. I’m good. Really good.’
Self-promotion and spin may have led the listener to consider this to be a true rendition of Bach’s music. Concertgoers may have gone away thinking that it was always loud and flashy, with many clashing notes. The listener could not have had an image of a composer who loved his God and who sought always to honour Him in his music.
The performer got in the way.
And so it is with some of us in the public eye who seek fame and power by saying, ‘I’m a Christian. My values are driven by my faith.’
We perform by being seen at church, by praying in public, by saying how our faith is so important and vital and the driving force in our lives. But our actions say otherwise.
So, how do we perform? Is our attitude care-full, seeking to reflect in our lives and works as accurate and honest a picture as possible of our God?
Or do we get in the way, care-less and arrogant, thinking it’s not important. ‘It’s what I say that matters. It’s me they’ve come to hear.’
We all need to reflect our God and our faith honestly: in our actions, not spin.
43 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. 45 Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts. Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts. Your words show what is in your heart. (Luke 6:43–45 Contemporary English Version)
Sheelagh Wegman, BA, IPEd Accredited Editor is a freelance writer and editor. She enjoys reading, music, sings in the choir of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart and lives in the foothills of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.
Sheelagh Wegman’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sheelagh-wegman.html