REPOST: “The Performance was on Tape. So What?”
Given how much of the planet, regardless of their political viewpoint is going nuts over Beyonce(!) lip-syncing at the Inaugural yesterday, I thought it would be good to resurrect a post from four years ago when it was discovered that cellist Yo-Yo Ma and others taped their performances.
Move on folks, unless you think that watching instruments freeze up and get wrecked is worth seeing on international television?
Ooh-rah to the Marine Band for manning up for game time. (Sadly, not all the time yesterday…)
As someone who’s played the slide trombone for nearly 20 years, I can relate to the concerns of Misters Ma, Perlman and their colleagues. It’s not everyday you get to see a classmate’s clarinet or alto saxophone literally ‘freeze up’ as the fingerings become impossible to move in cold weather. Or seen the valves on a trumpet become unable to move because the combination of value oil and the player’s own saliva did what comes naturally to these liquids in temps below 32 degrees.
Take the time someday to ask any brass player in a college marching band if they own a plastic mouthpiece and they’ll tell you when it’s used.
Since I never played one, I can’t imagine what weather would do to string instruments like the cello and violin, or the tuning of a piano. Who can blame these musicians, many of them in the possession of antique instruments, for trying to ensure their performance wasn’t altered by the environment’s effect on their instruments. After all, most modern instruments are now designed and built for playing indoors, not in weather like on Tuesday.
That being said, I can relate to this essay in the Washington Post today about the thrill of hearing a performance “live.” As having performed more concerts than attended, it’s always been a joy to hear people after a concert tell you how your contribution to a piece made them feel.