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Maybe it’s all these great diary posts Van has been doing on her grad school performances, but I’ve been thinking a lot (and missing) the creativity of my more creative years. Don’t get me wrong, I love the academic path I’ve taken, but sometimes I feel like there are way too many rules to obey and at the end of the day, I just want to break them all. While I trained as a classic violinist, then cellist, since I was 5 years old, my real passion was in performance, and in breaking the strict rules of classical music. Perhaps that is why I love avant-garde composers such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen so much. But beyond the music, I also wanted to take the performance aspect of playing classical music one step further.
While I’ve always had a soft spot for Jacqueline du Pré, I always thought that her music might be a little more exciting if, for example, she performed on top of a mountain, in an elevator, or wearing a yellow unitard. There was just something too “tame” about her that made me love Charlotte Moorman all the more. My dream performance, don’t ask me why, has always been to play Stockhausen’s In Freundschaft in a Porta Potty – I always thought that the confined space would make for great acoustics, not to mention the contrast of aesthetic between the portable toilet and the refinement of the instrument. I also attempted once to play the violin upside down, hanging from a tree. I basically climbed up a tree, tied my feet in a noose and threw myself over the branch. I don’t know if what came out could be considered music, but it was quite a performance!
In that respect, I have tremendous admiration for bands like Arcade Fire that have managed to combine classical and pop music with avant-garde performance stunts. Their elevator rendition of Neon Bible (see below) is everything I could ever ask from pop music.
When I think about it, maybe it is the performance, almost theatrical aspect of virtual worlds that has caught my attention and has yet to let go. No matter what people think about virtual worlds, or even how frustrated I can become when the inevitable technical issues raise their ugly heads, there is something that keeps drawing me in. Maybe it is the possibility of realizing these childhood dreams, of becoming something or someone you’re not or perhaps simply the possibility of being the person you really are. What is it about virtual worlds that keep you coming back?