Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bach in the D.C. Metro

A few months ago, The Washington Post conducted an "experiment in context, perception and priorities": the Post staff asked renowned concert violinist Joshua Bell to play Bach in the D.C. Metro on his Stradivarius, which he agreed to. The Bach-Bell experiment, as Post reporter Gene Weingarten wrote, was "an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?"

The answer, not surprisingly, was, "No." During the 45 minutes of Bell's rush hour performance of a Bach chaconne, only a few people stopped to listen, and the artist, who regularly sells out the world's great concert halls, raked in $32.17 for his efforts. We leave the readers of Contingencies to realize the implications f this experiment for themselves (a hint to the correct interpretation: Chandala)

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