Although the media covered this pretty well back in 2007 (you can read the Washington Post story here), I don’t remember hearing about it. My friend B. recently sent me some email considering its implications.
Apparently Joshua Bell – one of the world’s best violinists – played a 40 minute concert in a Metro station in Washington D.C., posing as a street musician. Only seven people stopped to listen (out of 1097 who passed by), and if you subtract the $20 donated by a woman who recognized him, he earned a total of $39 – actually, not a bad take for a street musician. Still, it raises interesting issues concerning how context can affect perception. Sure, most of the folks in the Metro were in hurry to get from points A to B, but does anyone doubt that if they had noticed the virtuosity before their ears, they wouldn’t have paused at least briefly to appreciate it?
The question is, given how much we all rush about in our lives, how much beauty do we miss on a daily basis?