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The Concert

Posted by Bartnik, Lee J - October 15, 2013 - Lee B., Students, Study Abroad

I just attended a classical concert–no, hang in with me, it was much better than it may sound. Indescribable really, but I’ll do my best.

First off, I have to be brutally honest. The only reason I went to the concert was because I happened to run into a guy on my floor who was performing and I told him I’d go. It consisted of eight different pieces performed by various artists who study at the Royal Academy of Music. So I find myself at this concert thinking, “Alright, let’s get this over with and get on with the party.” Halfway through the first piece I find myself totally engrossed with this music, particularly with the performers themselves.

I always used to think of classical music as some stiff chap reading notes off a dusty piece of sheet music while a bunch of old rich snobs sit around saying things like, “I particularly appreciated the vibrato on the G flat major; it was a nice touch.” However, I was struck by the passion that gripped these artists as they performed. Totally engrossed, each performer seemed to almost transcend their body as if the notes were dripping straight out of their soul.

The third piece was performed by a young Korean gentleman. He walked confidently to the piano, sat down, bowed his head and folded his hands for a moment that bordered on uncomfortable. One couldn’t help but get the feeling that something mind-blowing was about to take place. Suddenly, he busted out, slamming the keys and pumping the foot pedals like a man possessed. The piano shook violently as this man exorcised his demons in front of us. He never let up. Ten minutes of volcanic blasts up and down every single key the piano had to offer him. I’ve never seen anything like it, and frankly, I’m surprised that the piano survived.

Then there was the violin player. He was a thin, charismatic African man with dreadlocks. I’d never seen a violin player like him, and I certainly hadn’t heard one either. He had piano accompaniment, but clearly stole the show. He walked up to the stage and stood triumphantly front and center, glowing in the brightest white shirt I’ve ever seen. He was Robin Hood. He worked that violin in ways unbelievable, sliding up and down the neck as he bounced and scratched the bow aggressively against the strings. Masterfully, he lulled us into sedation, only to scramble us back into frenzy in the next measure. I found myself squirming uncontrollably in my seat, clutching my hands together and rubbing my eyes in disbelief. He grabbed the heart out of my chest and held it in front of me. This is even more awkward than it seems because he lives in my building and is hanging out in the common room with me right now. He didn’t even have sheet music in front of him. I found out later he hadn’t even practiced. He was just jamming! The level of skill, not to mention the level of pure guts it takes to play like that, simply incredible.

Well there’s my 523-word rant about a classical music concert I never wanted to attend. Can’t knock it till you try it.


Lee Bartnik, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in dietetics, is blogging about his study abroad experience in London.

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