I quite enjoyed the music for The Fantasticks, the musical I'm directing at the moment, the first few times I listened to it, but I can't say the songs had a huge impact on me. Of course, I knew Try To Remember, a lovely classic in anyone's terms, but the only other song that jumped out at me was Soon It's Gonna Rain - with which I was vaguely familiar. I thought of the other songs as well written, but just workmanlike, as it were, fitting into the show as needed to further its concerns.
Now I'm enamoured of almost every piece, including the incidental music and the stuff for underscoring. When you have the privilege of working up close with music of this quality you can't help but fall in love with it. And it helps that our own musicians play it so well.
In fact over the last couple of days I've been enjoying some of the spin-offs of working closely with genuinely musical people (as opposed to my sort of fake musicality.) Jonah, one of our immensely gifted pianists, was demonstrating the opening bars of one of the Rachmaninov piano concertos to me the other day, explaining just how difficult it was to play. Standing by him as he almost physically attacked the piano to deliver an astonishing passage was a viscerally powerful experience. The real concrete impact of the sound at close quarters was amazing (as was the playing.)
Then today, just before we started rehearsing for the afternoon, I caught the back end of a sort of piano master-class for some of our kids in the Music Elective Programme. One young lad in short trousers was playing a Chopin nocturne - one of the more dramatic ones - and, my goodness me, it was magical to listen to him.
We've lost so much in an age when the actual making of music is no longer available to us at close quarters, as it were. We're not as alive we used to be - unless we luck out, as I've managed to do.