Thursday, September 26, 2013

"For God's Sake, Would You Stop That Coughing!"

On my 10 minute drive to the Metrorail station in the mornings, I'm usually listening to Classical South Florida, 89.7 FM.  The radio station is owned by the people who purchased WMCU from the rascals on the board of Trinity International University years ago, to the dismay of a large, South Florida evangelical audience that had supported the old station for many years, including myself.  That being said, WKCP Miami has proven itself to be first rate.

As I was listening this morning, John Zech, who is tops as an announcer, presented a recording by Julian Bream, the lutist.   It reminded me of a performance of his during my freshman year at Duke.  He played in Page Auditorium, the main auditorium.

The large crowd consisted not predominantly of Duke undergraduates but people from the much wider Duke and Durham community. It was cold outside, and people came in bundled up.

Bream began to play beautifully, of course, gently and with great care.  A sort of intimacy began to fall over the auditorium.  But then someone coughed in the audience.  As if that person gave others permission, coughing began to punctuate the performance.  It would have been a different  thing if the Philadelphia Symphony had been playing Beethoven, and you weren't sitting right by the hacker, but this was Julian Bream and his lute, all alone up there on the stage.  It was bad.

Finally, Bream had enough.  He stopped playing, looked at the audience, and said "For God's sake, would you stop that coughing!"

Absolute silence.  Bream went back to his lute as if nothing had happened.  Nobody moved.  Nobody coughed. Nobody did anything but listen, and with a bit of apprehension.  It was wonderful!

Every time I have attended a concert since then and heard the first cough, I think of Julian Bream and his lute.   Until just a few years ago, he was still giving concerts and producing recordings.  He certainly taught me something.

No comments: