Posted in the Comments section to Michael Gordon’s New York Times article “Orchestra Hero” on the online column, Score: American Composers Sound Off, Harrell brilliantly and concisely summarizes Western artistic aesthetics, which has the Salonniere realizing she needs to do her homework regarding Eastern tenets on Art.
Mencius and Mo Tzu might be good places to start, but the salon is eager to hear of any other non-Western, non-European classical cultural theorists and critics who have shaped Eastern aesthetics. Ideas anyone?
Art in the West is about truth and beauty. Business in the West is about the truth of the contract. The Artist intersection between truth in Art and Business is within what the Artist guarantees to possess in the form of technical knowledge (virtuosity) and in archival repertoire (product). So when I say that you are dealing with Truth, I mean that you guarantee that your technical expertise is perfection, consistently so and sustainable.
Sometimes you are an archeologist unearthing artistic treasures that you then must spend thousands of hours reconstituting the truths of the specimen that you discovered and unearthed. Sometimes you are an architect building an artistic dwelling or even universe within your technique that will be alive and vital to your audience for a short time. An architecture that must have its own engineering, its own strength of structure and character and its own ability to withstand the observation and judgment of your fans and audience.
Sometimes you are a preacher or rabbi, sometimes you are a secular teacher, sometimes you are simply a person living within the art work so that the audience experiences the universe and feels safe entering it for a time with you as their guide or even coach in the world of that universe.
Creative Artists create their product and then release it into the world to be understood, studied, criticized, judged and appreciated hopefully throughout history. Hopefully adding to the value, virtue and richness of the societal identity that gives birth to the Creative Artist (mirror) and provides the environment for the evolution of their talent and ideas.
Performing Artists are different. Their job is to re-create the per-form-ance of a work within a specific time, space and audience. The value of their work is that they help the audience to understand the history and humanity of their culture by the resurrection of the work from the page to the artistic altar we call the raised stage upon which we perform. Per-form-ance means literally to “make the form clear” to your audience. In order to raise the dead script to life we must have impeccable technical skills whose entomology is found in the word virtue. Virtuosity means learned and practiced skill raised to the level of nature. Skill that seems simple, organic, natural and intuitive.
The truth of your work is found within your ability to manifest that illusion in the eyes of your public.
Ray Evans Harrell,
The Magic Circle Opera Repertory Ensemble, Inc.
New York City