Reinventing the wheel
A soaring Pegasus -
'... a brilliance that makes you want to listen to it over and over again ...'
The artist is the opposite of the politically minded individual,
the opposite of the reformer, the opposite of the idealist. The artist does
not tinker with the universe; he recreates it out of his own experience
and understanding of life.
- Henry Miller (1891-1980) US author
'An Open Letter to Surrealists Everywhere', The Cosmological Eye
Not so very long ago, I sat tired after a busy day, playing hopscotch
with the TV channels, not expecting to see anything worth watching. That's
how I found him. I gazed, spellbound, glued to a documentary about this
extraordinary musician. I was shouting out 'YES! ', agreeing
with his views, amazed at what he was doing, and greatly appreciative of
the path of someone who 'dares to be different'. I know how that feels;
it's my own familiar territory.
Here was a violinist saying, 'My idea of hell is having to go and play
in an orchestra every day -- performing what somebody else decides I
must play, in a manner in which I am told I must interpret it'. I am paraphrasing
a little, but that was the general gist. A breath of fresh air? A 'hurricane'
would be more appropriate.
I'm an oboist. I specialise in a rare oboe, the oboe d'amore.
I don't fit into a convenient orchestral pigeonhole by choice or by
vocation. Why am I supposed to sit contentedly as half of a brace of the
habitual oboistic spoon serving within a stereotyped, conventional orchestral
formation? Why should I docilely accept being able to play what I really
want about twice a year, when Bach Passions, Cantatas, the odd French impressionist,
or twentieth century all-too-rare plasma transfusions permeate (if one is
lucky)? Must one perform and idolise the Great Standard Orchestral Repertoire
to be a professional musician? Is it obligatory to be conventional, one
of the flock? Can't Music be other than symphonically orientated?
I had done my share of the orchestral treadmill; few were those who seemed
to understand that was not what I sought in Music, or wanted from Life.
Here was somebody saying he needed to be free to create, to interpret and
to make music on his own terms in his unique way. An individualist, self-confessed
I burned a cone of incense.
Copyright © 27 October 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland