Archive for September, 2005

Artistic Excellence

Monday, September 19th, 2005


The TV just reminded me why I love circus.

I was just flicking though the British TV stations… 5 channels filled with all the usual fodder: club promoters misbehaving, crime dramas, … and I stop for a moment on a documentary program that catches my eye.

An old woman is leading an old man into a church. This man was a great director of classical music, and this is the first time he has been back in this particular church since he directed an orchestra many years ago. They stand in the center, silent for a moment, and begin to reminisce about the particular sound of that church.. the old man talks about how he remembers the echo of the space.

“That’s right” the woman says. “You cleared out everything when you were here.. all the pews and furniture, and directed the orchestra in the most beautiful requiem. For the few people in the room, it moved them. They were in tears.”

Something awakens deep inside the old man… he goes quiet.

The woman continues, “That performance was broadcast to 5 countries. People all over the world were moved by your music.”

And then this old man; this brilliant director of music, in the face of such loving praise, started to cry and shook his head silently. “No.” he muttered to himself.

The woman is insistent “What you did was beautiful! Everyone was in tears”

He continued to shake his head. “I can’t believe you” he said “when you say these things.”

The program cut to commercial… and that one moment was enough to haul me out of bed at midnight and run into the kitchen to tell people about what I had just seen! I felt I had just witnessed a great truth. This artist, in the face of praise, can only feel a strange sense of remorse; an understanding of ones own limitations mixed with the true beauty of human potential.