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Would it Matter to You?
#1890991 05/04/12 09:12 AM
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A few evenings ago I saw an absolutely brilliant piano recital performed by Conrad Tao. The setting was intimate (an auditorium at Calvin College, a distinctly Christian liberal arts university) and the recital was part of the larger Gilmore Festival. I lack the musical vocabulary to provide an informative and responsible review so I won't attempt to.

I do have a question though, and it is directed especially to those of you who regularly perform. Before his performance began, the individual who introduced Tao spoke briefly about him, then led the audience in prayer (apparently a general practice at all performances at Calvin). This prayer included thanking God for Conrad Tao's gifts. As I was sitting in the audience hearing this prayer, I wondered if Tao was informed of the fact that a prayer would be said and the nature of the prayer's content. Would any of you be bothered by someone making such a statement before any of your performances? Would you simply assume that a prayer would be said before a performance at a religious venue?

I live in a fairly conservative predominately Christian environment and while I don't share the political and religious ideologies that characterize my community, I strive to be extremely tolerant. It is not my aim to prevent prayers from being said in public. While I will never perform a piano recital (I am an adult beginner), I CAN imagine other contexts where it would be offensive to me to have my accomplishments described as gifts from God(I am a research scientist). If I were introduced in that manner, I would feel compelled to state otherwise once I took the stage.




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Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891008 05/04/12 09:42 AM
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They are on their turf so they can do things their way. It is not intolerant to pray. He should be aware of where he is and if it offends him (why would it?) he could have withdrawn. I may disagree with the origin of talent but I do not feel that everyone has to share my opinion. Regardless, in that setting I think it would have been inappropriate for him to vocalize his disagreement.
You could argue that may be he was not aware of this "ritual", but he would have only himself and his managers to blame.
On the other hand, who knows. He may share that community's beliefs. The kid as so much talent, I would not be surprised if someone thought there was some divine intervention involved! laugh

Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891012 05/04/12 09:49 AM
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I do not share (nor hold) many beliefs based on those types of ideologies, either. But I'm not bothered by the notion of public Christian prayer being offered (technically) outside of a house of worship.

I see it as a positive thing. Regardless of my own belief system.

But if a performer were to be against it, and had prior knowledge of this protocol, then I'm sure that he or she could request that it not be done.


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Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891015 05/04/12 10:00 AM
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I've heard Tao play live twice in NYC and thought he was fantastic. Can you tell us the program?

Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891024 05/04/12 10:19 AM
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Would any of you be bothered by someone making such a statement before any of your performances? Would you simply assume that a prayer would be said before a performance at a religious venue?

I would be bothered by it if I were the performer. A moment of silent reflection allowing everyone to say or think whatever to their own personal god\God\gods\Gods would be as far as I would go.


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Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891026 05/04/12 10:20 AM
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I think that I would be fairly offended... Not because of my own personal beliefs, but because:
a. I wasn't asked beforehand.
b. It's no one's business what my beliefs are!
c. It would appear to the public that I'm endorsing the said religion (any religion).
d. It would appear that I had little to do with my ability in performing (composing in my case), while God would appear to have more to do with it!

It's one thing to pray in public, I happen to do it occasionally. It's another thing to place your beliefs in regards to someone else, his gifts, etc... Not nice in my book.

And of course, we're talking about a classical recital/concert in which case the religious venue is being used as a 'cosmic venue' rather than a religious one...

Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891030 05/04/12 10:25 AM
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Speaking as an amateur performer, I'd be about 5% uncomfortable and 95% honored and awe-stricken.

But if I were a professional with a reputation, much would depend on whether I'd be told in advance that this was the plan and given an opportunity to have input. Me personally, I would say "please don't," for a couple of reasons: it would feel too grandiose, and I would be concerned that it might make it seem that such spiritual observance reflected my own beliefs -- not involving any antipathy toward it, but just that it's not my beliefs. If I were a professional and they did it without my advance knowledge, I think I'd feel quite taken aback and perhaps thrown-off for the performance.


Nikolas: My goodness!! smile
It looks like I copied off you! grin

Last edited by Mark_C; 05/04/12 10:28 AM.
Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891033 05/04/12 10:29 AM
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Gladly.

Bach Concerto in the Italian Style
Tao Three songs (Cocoon, Smoke, and Catharsis)
Chopin Andane Spianato and Grande Polonaise in E flat Major
Liszt Au bord d'une source
Liszt Valee d'Obermann
Liszt Concert Paraphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto
Stravinsky Three Scenes from Petrushka (Russian Dance, In Petrushka's Room, The Shrovetide Fair)

His Encore was Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody # 6.

The Andante movement of the Bach was sublime. I thought his compositions were fascinating, I especially liked Catharsis. His Chopin, in my opinion, was out of this world. As a new pianist, I am learning to listen in a way that I have never done before. I truly understood the notion of color listening to Tao's Chopin. The Liszt pieces were just remarkable. I was expecting him to drop to the floor from exhaustion following those, but in my opinion, the finest treat was yet to come. The Stravinsky was....what can I say, I have exhausted my list of superlatives......I sat in utter disbelief hearing these pieces. I had not heard them before, but his performance was almost magical.
I was expecting an "I'm really tired and need to go to sleep now," kind of encore, but WOW!!! His Hungarian Rhapsody was very impressive.

An interesting note about the recital. Tao broke a piano string, I believe while playing Catharsis. He was so cute about pointing it out to the audience (I hope that you won't miss this note in the Chopin). Fortunately, a very skilled piano technician was at the recital. He fixed the problem in a snap, did a bit of tuning and we were off on the second leg of what I will consider one of the most remarkable musical evenings of my life!!!!! What an absolute talent Conrad Tao is!!!!!


Christine










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Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891049 05/04/12 10:42 AM
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I don't have a religion but I am a philosopher/theist and I would take an odd kind of offense to this. Not an atheistic offense as in "There is no God!" but rather "I worked really hard to get here. How about you thank me a little too, eh?" Besides, is this place some sort of campus? Is it a religious program? It's also disrespectful to anyone in the audience with conflicting views.

Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891051 05/04/12 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by GlassLove
Gladly.

Bach Concerto in the Italian Style
Tao Three songs (Cocoon, Smoke, and Catharsis)
Chopin Andane Spianato and Grande Polonaise in E flat Major
Liszt Au bord d'une source
Liszt Valee d'Obermann
Liszt Concert Paraphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto
Stravinsky Three Scenes from Petrushka (Russian Dance, In Petrushka's Room, The Shrovetide Fair)

His Encore was Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody # 6.

He played the same program minus Petrushka at a noontime recital at Rockerfeller Center in NYC around a year ago.

Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891085 05/04/12 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by lostaccato
It's also disrespectful to anyone in the audience with conflicting views.


With politically correct thinking such as this, the venue would have to clear in advance everything that might be said or done, and clear it with everyone who might attend the event so as to not potentially "offend" someone.

The event was at a Christian college, and they prayed a Christian prayer. Wow.

this:
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They are on their turf so they can do things their way.


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Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891091 05/04/12 12:00 PM
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I assume that the pianist had been informed beforehand what was going to happen, and was OK with it (whether he agrees with it or not personally). If he wasn't, he'd have the right to be annoyed and walk off.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891096 05/04/12 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by GlassLove
....An interesting note about the recital. Tao broke a piano string....Fortunately, a very skilled piano technician was at the recital. He fixed the problem in a snap....

Y'all know how that's usually done?

They just remove the string -- take it out, throw it away. smile

Re: Would it Matter to You?
Mark_C #1891100 05/04/12 12:12 PM
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If the broken string is one of the double or triple, I assume... Otherwise it wouldn't solve anything really...

Re: Would it Matter to You?
rocket88 #1891102 05/04/12 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rocket88
Originally Posted by lostaccato
It's also disrespectful to anyone in the audience with conflicting views.


With politically correct thinking such as this, the venue would have to clear in advance everything that might be said or done, and clear it with everyone who might attend the event so as to not potentially "offend" someone.

The event was at a Christian college, and they prayed a Christian prayer. Wow.

this:
Quote
They are on their turf so they can do things their way.


Alright, of course there's nothing wrong with that. I just didn't know whether they were in a secular or religious venue.

Re: Would it Matter to You?
Nikolas #1891103 05/04/12 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
If the broken string is one of the double or triple, I assume....

It usually is! And I'd bet it was.

If it weren't, I don't think it would have been possible for him to do what he did (as described -- i.e. the "in a snap" part).

Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891107 05/04/12 12:21 PM
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Y'all know how that's usually done?

Mark_C I'm sure he removed the string that had broken and tuned the remaining one or two--depending on how the stringing was done--and that would be about it//

It is not unusual for prayers to precede and follow a program on a religious campus. I agree with the one who said something to the effect 'it is their turf' so you respect their customs or don't go. If an atheist goes to a Christian event is he there to disrupt and be offended or because the event he something he wants to experience and the tenets of the church affiliation are inconsequential to him. One doesn't have to be politically correct on their own grounds. My last recital was in a Baptist church and they offered a prayer before and after the program. I'm Catholic but I saw nothing wrong and certainly didn't object.

Whether one feels innate talent is 'natural' or God given is a personal belief. Even if a gift from God the holder of the talent has to work assiduously to develop and maintain it.

Ralph

Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891112 05/04/12 12:26 PM
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It would bother me but I would just grin and bear it. The people putting on the concert (paying for it, providing the venue, etc.) are the boss. I am not religious but prayers don't necessarily offend me.

Now, if it was something truly immoral and offensive, like praise for the master race or something, I might even get up and walk out if I could. But I've played for some pretty questionable people in the past and even they never did anything like that, so it's an unlikely scenario.


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Re: Would it Matter to You?
GlassLove #1891116 05/04/12 12:31 PM
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A prayer to a general "God", a notion which can have many interpretations (including "life force" and even "laws of physics"), wouldn't bother me at all.

A prayer to a more specific God, whether Jesus or Zeus, would bother me a little bit. But probably not too much, and, since this is their turf, I wouldn't let it show.

-J

Re: Would it Matter to You?
Varcon #1891120 05/04/12 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Varcon
If an atheist goes to a Christian event is he there to disrupt and be offended or because the event he something he wants to experience and the tenets of the church affiliation are inconsequential to him.
True and fair enough, but from the OP it isn't clear if this was a christian event (my guess is that it wasn't), or just the church (?) used as a venue with a piano...

superabimus was premièred in a church, which is all fine and dandy and nobody said anything, but I would certainly feel awkward having composed a work about 'making it' and 'keeping hope' and 'overcoming difficulties' and this being linked to any religion, when it was not conceived as such...

Quote
One doesn't have to be politically correct on their own grounds. My last recital was in a Baptist church and they offered a prayer before and after the program. I'm Catholic but I saw nothing wrong and certainly didn't object.
Political correctness is one of the silliest things imho... It's one thing to be thoughtful of others and another to reach to do that in your own home!

Whether one feels innate talent is 'natural' or God given is a personal belief. Even if a gift from God the holder of the talent has to work assiduously to develop and maintain it.

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