Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Out of Context

The story of Augustin Hadelich, who I wrote about yesterday, touches on the story of another great young violinist, Joshua Bell. Some experts see the two as comparable talents.

In 2007, Joshua Bell was put on a baseball cap and ordinary clothes and stood playing Bach on a Stradivarius in a Washington subway station. The thousand or so people who passed by while he was playing obviously thought he was just a street musician playing for tips.

He was in Washington to play at the Library of Congress and he regularly sells out symphony halls, commanding $100 a ticket. Yet, that morning in the subway, no one recognized him.

The Washington Post put him up to the idea to see what would happen.

How often do we fail to recognize talent when it is out of context?

Is a musician only good if they are booked into a concert hall? Is an artists only good if a gallery or museum features their work? Is a writer only good if a major publishing house publishes their books? Can we recognize true beauty when it pops up in unexpected places? Do we have trouble recognizing true beauty and true talent when it pops up in unexpected people?

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