My wife just showed me this story — a very thorough, rather thoughtful account of a musical experiment. What would happen if one of the world’s greatest classical performers busked incognito in a major Washington DC transit facility at rush hour? Find out what happened.
I don’t have much to say, partly since the article’s authors have done a pretty thorough job on the What It All Means part, and also since I don’t want to give away the surprising (or maybe not) result.
Go read it.
Now, readers: was the result what you expected?
The musician in question is Joshua Bell. I knew him slightly — saw him around and talked to him a few times, anyway — when I was studying at Indiana. He’s a really nice guy. He had a Porsche and a strad and a major career at 18, and you wanted to hate on him, but it was a widely remarked-on fact that you couldn’t. This is stranger than you might think. A bunch of hyper-competitive music students could hate on anyone, could hate on the Dalai Lama, if you convinced them he had gotten to the semifinals of the Tchaikovsky competition. (“Those saffron robes are ugly. And he plays out-of-tune!”) Joshua Bell must have had a big bottle of hater repellent somewhere.
He was also a pretty good violinist.