Acting the Part

dana trometer

How can techniques usually confined to the acting world benefit string players on stage? Pauline Harding goes back to school to find out

’I can’t help imagining what it would be like if musicians set the same standards for performance as actors,’ Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto told me earlier this year. ‘Actors live their roles in the theatre: they perspire them, they breathe them; everything they do is about that play. But often when I go to a concert, I get the feeling that the performer has only just started to get to know the piece. It’s a bit like going to see Hamlet and the actor says in a deadpan voice, “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” without having the background of pain that those few words require. You have to feel that the people on stage become the piece that they are performing. With classical music this is often what I miss.’ Some might feel that they do pour themselves wholeheartedly into performances and that Kuusisto is being unfair, but perhaps he has a point. After all, characters expressed in instrumental music are often less clear-cut than those presented in a play, so it can be more di cult to interpret and portray them e ectively. Taking some lessons from the theatre might help musicians to invest themselves in pieces more convincingly.

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