In pop music, a lot of importance is placed on seeing an artist live. There's that pride of saying you've been in the same room with so-and-so, even if it is a really huge room that seats more than 10,000. But there's also the thrill of seeing the music made live, and even if you have no knowledge of how to play an instrument, you can understand the interaction of the players and identify the fingertips producing those fantastic sounds.
If I were going to try to introduce a pop fan to classical music, I would probably start with a chamber concert, Sunday night's performance by the Colorado Quartet for the Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky being a prime example of why. (Photo, L-R, violist Marka Gustavsson, violinist Julie Rosenfeld, cellist Diane Chaplin and violinist D. Lydia Redding.)
It's not that classical audiences and fans aren't big boosters of live music. They are, in fact, notorious for traveling thousands of miles to see choice ensembles and soloists. But often the discussion leans to the aural experience -- hearing the music brilliantly played unfiltered by recording or amplification. Only in the discussion of powerfully expressive conductors and soloists do you hear much about the visual experience of seeing the musicians. Just last week in this space, we were looking at Alex Ross' New Yorker piece in which he imagined the disappointment of a pop fan going to see a performance of Beethoven's passionate Eroica symphony where, "the musicians have no emotion on their faces."
Colorado Quartet violinist Julie Rosenfeld wore the music on her face Sunday night in the Singletary Center for the Arts recital hall. To put it in pop terms, she was like the guitar hero churning out face-melting solos. Violinist D. Lydia Redding was like the stalwart rhythm player -- though we know string quartets are more complex than that -- constructing complex parts that fill out that sound. Then you had the cool cucumber bassist, a la John Entwistle, in viola player Marka Gustavsson, making holding down those roots and solos look easier than they seem. And then cellist Diane Chaplin was in the deep end, closing her eyes as she dug into her parts.