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On Thursday each week my column appears in the Euro Weekly News. My opinion is just that, an opinion. Feel free to put your oar in but in a constructive way if you please. Thanks so much. - Michael

Did You Miss Something Today?
15 November 2011 @ 19:00

Because of the winter cold outside a man chose a Washington DC metro station to play his violin. In the 45 minutes following he played about six Bach pieces during which time thousands passed him by with scarcely a glance. A few did pause. A middle aged man slowed his pace and stopped for a moment before hurrying on. A few minutes later a women tossed a dollar into his violin case but hardly paused as she too continued on her way. Another man hesitated for a little while, just to listen to him. Then looking at his watch he too went about more pressing business.
The one who paid the most attention was a little boy of perhaps three years of age. His mother managed to drag him away but the youngster’s head kept turning back. This action was repeated by several other children whose parents also hurried them on.
During the 45-minutes the itinerant violinist played only six people paused to listen whilst another twenty gave him money before hurrying on their way. The fiddler collected a total of $32.
When he had finished playing there was silence. No one noticed, no one applauded, no one recognised the solitary musician playing in the station‘s confines. That musician was none other than Joshua Bell, one of the world’s finest musicians. With considerable panache he has played some of the most intricate pieces ever composed. His violin is estimated to be worth $3.5 million.
Two days earlier Joshua Bell had played to a packed Boston theatre at which the average seat price was $100. What was the real story?
The prestigious Washington Post was carrying out a social experiment about perception, taste, and the priorities people have. The outline was a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour. They wanted to know, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Are we capable of identifying and appreciating true talent when in an unexpected context?
What was the conclusion drawn from this enlightening experience? If we don’t have a moment to stop and listen to one of the world’s most talented musicians playing some of the most beautiful music ever written by man, how many other things of great beauty are we missing each day?

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Patricia (Campana) said:
16 November 2011 @ 14:51

Mike. Yes, I had read about this musician's experiment. Extraordinary. People are self-absorbed and shut off, even shut off from themselves. Even if the entire orchestra had been set out there in the underground most of the people would have rushed past.

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