Oct. 13: Experiencing the Unexpected

By Cathy Fuller

I was recently asked to speak at the memorial concert for conductor Charles Ansbacher, who passed away tragically last month after a year-long battle with brain cancer.  His Landmarks Orchestra enlivened Boston’s summers with orchestral music in surprising places (the Boston Common, Jamaica Pond, Fenway Park).  Every concert included new music, written for the orchestra by composers like Daniel Pinkham and Thomas Oboe Lee.

As I thought about his success, I realized that the element of surprise played a part in keeping open the minds of unsuspecting listeners.  Those who may have been out on their usual walk would find that their usual scenery suddenly included a full orchestra, blending happily into the landscape. Babies and toddlers would come to accept the presence of orchestral sounds in their outdoor worlds as an absolutely common phenomenon.  Of course, children are usually open to whatever’s going on around them, completely without pretension.

And of course, as adults, we often need to maneuver ourselves into that kind of openness.  And sometimes someone else does the maneuvering for us…  Have you ever been dragged to a classical music experience, only to find yourself transformed?  Write a comment below if you like, and while you’re thinking on that, take a look at how that plays out in one particularly popular television series from a few years ago when a certain listener (hint below!) was coerced into having a classical music experience.

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