Best Thing I Saw Today #11: Joshua Bell busks incognito
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In synopsis: an extremely enterprising staff writer at the Washington Post convinces the super-lauded violinist Joshua Bell to busk in disguise at the busy L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington. The paper filmed his 43-minute set in order to record how many of the 1097 passer-bys might notice that they are in the momentary presence of a musician of extraordinary talent and expertise.
It’s a good idea for a story but it’s the execution of the piece that really stands out as the writer whisks us from point to point in his glorious critical rundown of the social experiment. Ostensibly this is music journalism but, really, it’s got a lot more to do with examining the filters and contexts Westerners rely upon to frame any experience of aesthetic beauty. This was an experiment to see if quality and master craftsmanship could transcend context and reveal itself in the most mundane and unexpected of scenarios. The results may not be surprising but the way they’re explained here is utterly compelling.
Read the piece here.