Beautiful musicians

Christopher Small and Neville Braithwaite

Neville Braithwaite and Christopher Small

I love these photos — there’s another one on an earlier post — of Christopher Small and his partner. As I said in that post, the two men radiate joy.

And, as I wrote, Small was a joyful voice, looking toward the future of classical music. Here’s a site with many tributes from him (including one from me, which you can also read in my earlier post).

And here’s another tribute:

Erica and I have been reading “Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening” by Christopher Small. Mr. Small challenges his readers to consider leaving behind the old concept of music as a thing and begin to think of music as an activity.…When a music event is planned, many people become active in bringing the plan to fruition.…There are…individuals scheduling the space, arranging for rehearsal time, tuning the piano, and doing what they can to promote the recitals.…When the appointed time arrives, more people become involved. People gather to listen.…Even though none of the composers will be present at these performances, their presence will undoubtably be felt.

Theodore SipesThese are fragmented quoted from a lovely blog post by Theodore Sipes, a baritone who teaches at Virginia Tech. (Note that the link to him takes you to a page on his website where, rather than list all the things he’s done, he tells you, with great love, why he’s done them. If you want details, you can find them on his page at the Virginia Tech site.)

I’d urge you to read the blog post. Among much else, it shows how beautifully Christopher Small — once a voice in the wilderness — connects with all the changes we’re making in classical music now. Tadd and his wife Erica (one of my dear online friends) are finding ways to make their recitals more involving for everyone. Which, so significantly, I think includes them, as well as their audience.

Erica SipesAnd this makes me do something I should have done much earlier — urge you all to look at Erica Sipes’s evocative, beautiful, sensitive blog. And not just to read a post or two, but to browse through previous posts. For instance, Erica’s posts about playing the second book of Bach’s Well-Tempered Klavier. She goes through each prelude and fugue, talking wonderfully about them. And offering videos of her playing this music, which — so strong in their simplicity — show only her hands.

And also her posts about Schubert’s Winterreise, going song by song through the cycle, with links to videos of her performance. i’ve rarely seen anyone talk about classical music with such love, such understanding, and with so much personal detail. Her posts are a model, I think, of one way we can present classical music to a wider world. Or simply to present ourselves within the classical music world. I’m so glad I know her.

Here’s her description, in a series of tweets to me, of what happened at a concert she and Tadd gave:

Kind of amazing timing for us, to stumble on Musicking…I started reading it in Switzerland last week & right after I read that chapter…..u quoted in ur post, we had a performance in a small town & at the end, nobody got up from their seats. We didn’t know quite what 2 do and it was an intimate audience so we decided to just stay up in front & chat w/them, answer questions about the music, etc…Some even expressed what music moved them the most…it was really a very moving experience for us…so refreshing.

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