How to Prevent a Hit and Run

Concerts can be a lot like a hit and run. The music collides with our eardrums and then disappears. It’s usually the only time we listen to the pieces on the program. We’re left in awe or confusion and then forget about the music. Any chance for meaningful and lasting connection is gone.

Composer Alban Berg sums it up poignantly…

“The performances are for the most part unclear. And in particular the public’s consciousness of its needs and desires is unclear. The consequence is that the works are valued, respected, praised and welcomed, or disregarded, censured and rejected, all on account of one single effect, which proceeds equally from all of them: on account of unclarity”.

As much as I hate to admit, music doesn’t speak for itself. As musicians we have to give voice to the voiceless: the works we perform. Playing the music is only part of it. We need repetition, explanation, anything that can help the audience develop meaningful and lasting connections with the music.

Fighting Berg’s unclarity is a musician’s priority.


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