We managed a concert with Nigel Kennedy last night at Sydney Opera House. I’d always known he was different – the grunge look, Aston Villa shirts, extraordinary language with words like ‘geezer’ more reminiscent of Alf Garnet’s era than anything spoken in England today. One wonders whether this is a huge ego drawing attention to itself – or, more likely, a rather shy and vulnerable person putting up a smokescreen … and maybe it all gets in the way of the music ..
And then he plays. And the magic is, as always, in the quiet passages and the silences. I watched him hold 2000 people absolutely spellbound. The programme offered about 75 minutes of Mozart and Beethoven. The concert was actually a catholic experience which began with unaccompanied Bach, ended with Jimmy Hendrix and lasted nearly three hours. He plays the notes on the page and then improvises as well. He simply breaks apart the traditional and stuffy approach to music-making and refashions it in a way which allows him space to create moments of musical and spiritual intensity which are just extraordinary.
Things we might learn from?
He who has ears to hear …