More nifty music content in a major national newspaper — this past Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine featured an article about how Joshua Bell, acclaimed classical violinist, played in a busy DC metro station at rush hour as a kind of social experiment. Surprising no one who has ever been in the DC metro at rush hour, he was resoundingly ignored, despite the predictions of Leonard Slatkin, director of the National Symphony Orchestra, who either has never been in the metro, is shockingly out of touch with the modern world, or both:
“Let’s assume,” Slatkin said, “that he is not recognized and just taken for granted as a street musician… Still, I don’t think that if he’s really good, he’s going to go unnoticed. He’d get a larger audience in Europe… but, okay, out of 1,000 people, my guess is there might be 35 or 40 who will recognize the quality for what it is. Maybe 75 to 100 will stop and spend some time listening.”
So, a crowd would gather?
To be fair, it seems that a few people did stop and listen for at least a few seconds or minutes, which is generally more than you can say for most street musicians in this city. But in any case, Bell’s reactions to the stunt are especially fun to read: “‘I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change.’ This is from a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.”
The article includes audio of the full 45-minute “performance,” plus selected video clips which are good fun.