Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thought for the day.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children.

All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.

No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the top musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written,with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty?Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

After reading the above moving piece, I thought to myself " Who the f*ck is Joshua Bell" If he had being playing in SA he would have been mugged for his cash, his cellphone and his 3.5mil violin would be on special at cash converters for R350.00.

Not only that but he would be playing out of necessity as a product of some AA which would prevent him from playing at the National Theatre. But consider this, at the current exchange rate, he earned R350.00 for 45 minutes work. Not a bad gig.

This is not a story about not been noticed, but a story of how safe the rest of the world is compared to SA. Call me Mr Negative but those were my thoughts. A good story none the less.

6 Opinion(s):


Most amazing story. Shows us that there is a time and place for everything as well as that judgement is the ability to recognise quality without consulting the pricetag.

Doberman said...

Very good story.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Maybe, just maybe the people he played for where not into classical. If he played hip hop would he have had a better reception?

I for one cannot get my wife to an opera or to the theater. She hates it where as I love it. Then again I am in a minority in more ways than one.

Anonymous said...

Good story and very interesting, but how does one spin this into something negative about SA? Joshua Bell could have done the same experiment at Cape Town station with the same result.
Pull yourselves together, this is getting laughable.

FishEagle said...

Anonymous, with your wife’s permission, I will go to the opera or the theatre with you!

Joe King said...

My point exactly anon 03:34 it is laughable – consider this :

Rapper Keith Murray, who is currently in South Africa working on his next album with local artists, was robbed on Tuesday (September 18 2007 ) and is offering a reward the returned of the stolen goods.

According to local paper Pretoria News, the rapper lost "the last 12 years of his work" stored on the Apple Mac and was now desperate to get it back.

The paper reports that two armed men stormed into the Cube recording studios in Parkview, South Africa at around 10 p.m., holding up Murray and several other individuals with him.

Two men reportedly took four laptops, cellphones and cash.

Lance Stehr, CEO of Ghetto Ruff, a local record label, said that two other accomplices waited outside while the robbery went down.

"When the guys left they even had the cheek to shout 'Hey Fassie boy, continue making hits'," Stehr told the paper

Musicians are soft targets ask Taliep or “Lucky” Dube so yes my cynic is not unfounded. Enjoy the opera guys :-)