Yet there is an irony here. This summer, I was able to “attend” the Tchaikovsky Competition, the Verbier Festival, and the Salzburg Festival courtesy of my subscription to Medici TV that I streamed from smart phone to TV. I watched complete performances replete with applause and encores in high definition close-up videos of singers and instrumentalists and I heard them in wonderful fidelity. I was caught up in the sometimes live events that were occurring. Whether it be the young Mongolian singer, Ganbaatar Ariunbaatar, who won the Grand Prize at the 15th Tchaikovsky Festival, the youthful Daniil Trifonov who has burst onto the world scene as a superb pianist and chamber musician, or the 90 year old Menahem Pressler who played a piano recital in his inimitable way at Verbier, although I could not go to Moscow, Verbier, or Salzburg this summer, I could witness these performers from afar. Seeing and hearing these concerts, I had a sense of what was going on but I wanted to be there! Nevertheless, in the comfort of our music room, there was an intimacy that my seat in the concert hall could not have given me.
Much hangs on the use that is made of the inventions of our age. As a matter of public policy, it is imperative to educate people to use them wisely. In music, as the other arts, new technologies offer a remarkable opportunity to widen audiences and offer virtual experiences of performances through live streaming and archiving of performances. These virtual experiences bridge to live face-to-face music making and taking, and afford opportunities for audiences to closely attend to the music. They also constitute a refuge in today’s world.