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Hosting Angels Unaware

Pearls Before Breakfast

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?

On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The answer, which should have been obvious to anybody who's been in D.C. for any amount of time, is not just "No." but "Hell no!"

Be sure to watch the videos!

-The Gneech


Apr. 9th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
See, that's why you don't see street musicians during a morning commute... try it again on the evening commute, or better yet on the mall on a nice Saturday or Sunday... Context is big, but for classical music, most people aren't willing to be late for work.

VH1 did a series of 'guerilla concerts' with famous bands randomly showing up somewhere unexpected to play a song or two. Those drew big crowds.

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