2010-04-10

Wedding Vignette

My colleagues in the USA tell me that the season is now upon them.

You're a pianist who rehearses singers at the opera and performs in a chamber ensemble. To get to this point you've invested countless hours in practice time and thousands of dollars in instruments, scores, tuition and fees. And every year around this time, parents of brides start approaching you. Each set of parents announces that you have been chosen among all other pianists to perform at a very special event: the wedding of their daughter.

You thank them and tell them your fee. Two jaws drop. 'We never expected that you'd want money,' they say.

You could tell from their expressions alone that the gig was never going to happen. You're okay with that. If it's disappointing to learn your bank account won't get any help from this invitation, at least having the day free anyway will spare you playing your 167th 'Wedding Song' since your last recital.

But your knowledge that the encounter is going nowhere will not prevent the conversation requiring a few more minutes to spin out. Before the parents leave they must tell you, gravely, that they had always assumed musicians do what they do out of love for their art rather than the desire for material gain and that the honour of being chosen for such an important event would speak for itself. And now, thanks to you, both of them will walk away forever saddened at the realisation that Our Cynical Modern World Has Come To This.

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