What a splendid occasion! I confess that I didn’t keep with the commentary and speculation until only a day or two ago, when the program (and the music!) were released.
Whenever something like this happens there’s always the questions, Is a monarchy still relevant in today’s world, and if so, why. The best answer I’ve seen was in the New York Times, in a discussion between columnists David Brooks and Gail Collins (both always worth reading, btw). Brooks was quoting a sentence by Bret Stephens in his Wall Street Journal column last Tuesday:
“Royalty is the most venerable embodiment of British tradition, tradition is the lifeblood of identity, identity generates social cohesion without resort to force, and social cohesion is the sine qua non of a viable polity.”
Brooks continued, “That sentence beautifully captures why the royal family matters and why the U.K. would be much worse off without it.”
That sentence is worth pondering. For me it definitively answers the question. And one could apply it to music (of whatever style), high-quality work in general, and no doubt many other things. But I’ll leave that to others!
Check out this NY Times article about the Westminster Abbey Choir’s preparations for the royal wedding this week. Some interesting history and great stories! Purcell’s music cabinet is still in the choir room at the Abbey, but I didn’t know about the extracurricular activities that got him in trouble…
If you’re a fan of the special sound of a live performance, this fascinating article goes into many of the complicated reasons that authentic performances are compelling.
One idea is that the emotional content in music is sometimes conveyed by subtle changes in a piece’s basic motion and activity, rather than melody or rhythm, the more expected elements one would expect to convey emotion.
An interesting quote comes from a recording engineer for the Beatles: “Often when we were recording some of those Beatles rhythm tracks, there might be an error incorporated, and you would say, ‘That error sounds rather good,’ and we would actually elaborate on that. When everything is perfectly in time, the ear or mind tends to ignore it, much like a clock ticking in your bedroom — after a while you don’t hear it.”
And there are other wonderful comments from such performing luminaries as Paul Simon, Roseanne Cash, and Yo-Yo Ma. I highly recommend reading the whole article!