The Solo Traveller's View


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David Garrett’s Audience

An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 14

Does the title conjure visions of screaming girls in your mind? Crowds of female fans in a frenzy of passionate adoration, such as the world witnessed repeatedly since the heyday of Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and others? Yet, as far as I can see, there is not a single video of David Garrett’s events on YouTube that shows such scenes. Some might argue that he obviously can’t compare with Elvis, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Others might reply that they have nothing on him.

Be that as it may, David appears to have more than enough of whatever it is that might make girls scream. But the people who come to his shows, including love-struck girls, are remarkably restrained in their behaviour, especially in Europe. Adoring, yes – but also respectful; shy even. Overawed, it seems. By contrast, the Latin American countries provide his noisiest, most exuberant audiences, according to David’s own words. Videos of concerts in South America and Mexico record a lot of background noise as people chat, sing along, laugh, or call out in their enthusiasm, and the occasional “I love you!” is clearly heard above the din.

David Garrett’s critics like to suggest that his audiences must be mindless, uneducated, unmusical masses who have fallen easy prey to clever marketing strategies because they “could not tell a C major chord from a car horn”. But David, who has personal and direct impressions of the individuals who make up those crowds, speaks highly of his fans. The affection, respect and gratitude he shows them does not pass unnoticed. Letters, cards and gifts are heaped on him wherever he goes. And, as YouTube comments show, David’s fans are at least as intelligent, literate and musically sensitive as his critics:

“David is my hero, and the hero of other open-minded violinists. He has drawn so many people of all ages to classical music and to the violin. At his concerts, children sit completely mesmerized by the passion he brings to his music and the manner in which he reveals the full range of what is possible in playing the violin. His lovely, pleasant, open manner is so endearing and creates a wonderful concert experience.” – “Whether playing the classics or pop-rock tunes, he rocks! No other musician brings together people of all ages to appreciate such a wide spectrum of musical styles.”

05 Looking at DG

These days, David Garrett’s audiences are a mix of all ages and come in several sizes: moderate, large, extra-large, huge and enormous. The moderate-sized are usually classical concerts in beautiful architectural settings, such as traditional concert halls or even the occasional church. But his crossover shows use vastly more technical equipment and draw much larger crowds, filling supersized arenas to the brim. In neither case, however, are screaming girls in evidence.

2015 Enescu Festival 7

2012 Hannover (2)

The front rows tend to be occupied by loyal fans who have the time and the means to follow David from concert to concert and have sometimes been doing so for years. They have become experts on his shows, his life and his music through long-time study and observation, and the reward for their passionate interest is the beam of his luminous smile as it sweeps them during their standing ovation at the end.

04 Looking at DG

“Absolut genial! Die pure Freude, die David Garrett empfindet, springt sofort über und bleibt im Herzen. Ich juble Dir zu, mit einem ganz großen DANKESCHÖN!” – (“Absolute genius! The pure joy David Garrett feels sparks across and stays in the heart. I hail you with a great big THANK YOU!”) – “Dear David, all my respect to you with love for the beautiful music and energy that you give to people.”

09 Looking at DG

Pensioners, young couples, parents with children, music students, music teachers, teenagers and middle-aged women seem to mix equably as they fill row upon row of huge auditoriums and arenas. And as the cameras pan across their faces and pick out a few close-ups, they capture that same look of quiet reverence we already encountered on the faces of David’s interviewers on talk shows as he plays for them:

01 Looking at DG

It is a calm, a wondering look, captivated by the sight this beautiful musician offers to the eye; and an enchantment, a marvelling at the soothing or sparkling sounds he coaxes from his violin at will.

02 Looking at DG

Touched by such grace, the delighted stillness on each face becomes a mirror of that beauty, rather as the calm surface of a pool would reflect the brilliance of a star. Screaming would shatter that mirroring, this reflection and wonderment, like a rock.

03 Looking at DG

“Dear David, stay right with your feet on the ground, then you will be someone who never will be forgotten. For my wife and me you are the BEST violinist.” – “Wonderfully played, just beautiful! And that contagious joyousness of his playing, one would like to join in directly.” – “A great performance by an outstanding musician. I love his passion when playing the violin.” 

Over the years, David has learnt to overcome his initial shyness and has discovered and developed a talent for engaging with his audience. Although he claimed repeatedly in interviews that he really dislikes going on stage, one would never guess. He seems so perfectly at home up there, owning the space, the show, the love of the multitude – and he knows how to give them a fantastic time too. Whether a piece is calm or lively, classical or contemporary, contemplative or explosive, well-known or new: with consummate skill, David Garrett entices his listeners to celebrate MUSIC in different forms. He radiates pure joy as he plays, and that joy is reflected in each individual member of his audience, many thousand souls strong, at each event in turn.

2012 Hannover 11 Let it be

2012 Hannover 14 Let it be

What a great gift and skill it is to be able to do this! It calls to my mind Morgan Freeman’s lines in the moving film The Bucket List. “You know, the Ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance of heaven, the guards asked two questions, and their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not:  ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ and ‘Has your life brought joy to others?’”

Well, David will be able to answer with a resounding yes both times. He clearly loves what he does, is aware of his privilege and willing, for the sake of it, to take the strain of a life on the road, thereby sacrificing almost everything that makes up a normal adult life. But then, what is really so great about a normal adult life? Who wouldn’t willingly trade with him if it were at all possible? … Surely even those guards at the entrance of heaven will want his autograph.

Driven by his purpose, his ideas and intentions, David Garrett has hit the fast lane and shows no signs of slowing down. His loyal fans see it with mixed feelings. On the one hand they can’t get enough of him, but on the other they worry about his health. Does he get enough rest? Does he look after himself? More importantly still, does his management? Every pound lost or kilogram gained is immediately noted and widely discussed, his life examined and possible reasons scrutinized: Such is the price of fame and success.

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We come, at last, to David Garrett’s Beauty. If you click ‘follow blog via email’ you won’t miss it.
To leave your comment, please click on the little orange ‘comments’ link next to the date, at the top of each article. This will open a box for you to write in, below the other comments. (After posting, your words will disappear from sight until they have been approved.) Apparently this tiny link is not user-friendly, for there have been questions repeatedly on how to leave a comment. So I hope this helps, because I love to hear from you …

(All photographs are screenshots drawn from YouTube, for the purpose of illustration only. I trust the authors will allow this use of their picture material. No copyright infringement is intended.) 

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David Garrett’s Your Song Serenade

An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 12

You too may have seen YouTube footage of Your Song from David Garrett’s Classic Revolution tour, where at each event in turn he serenades a girl, selected by his manager from the audience, with Elton John’s famous love song. Did you like it? Or did you think it a cheesy stunt, thought up by an event manager eager to capitalize on David’s great appeal to women, the PR intention behind it blatantly obvious? I confess that I did. Nevertheless, David’s playful charm and joyful playing transform even this chaff to gold, and the audience loves it.

01 Your Song.jpg

“Ich würde sterben vor Glück!” – “Yo lo hubiera abrazado y nunca lo hubiera soltado!” – “I’m not a teenager anymore, but I’m afraid I might have pissed my pants if he did this to me.” – A mí me hace eso y mínimo lo abrazo, mínimo me muero, mínimo grito, mínimo lloro.” – Oh my GOD! How lucky this girl and I’m so sorry that I was not in her place!” – “Qué envidia y de la buena. Ella seguramente se siente en el paraíso.” – He is amazing. I would like to be in this girl’s place.” – “Ich würde ja vom Stuhl kippen.” – Oh, you LUCKY LUCKY girl!!!!” – “Ich glaube ich wäre in Ohnmacht gefallen.” – “Me han roto el corazón.” – I would give so much money to be her!” – “Waren bestimmt die schönsten 4 Minuten ihres Lebens. Ich würde dafür 10 Tode sterben!” – “She’s so lucky to be so near to him!” – Qué bonito … que trauma a la vez, yo quieroooo.” – Er fährt aber Charmegeschütze auf! Zauberhaft! Danke!” – “A mí me hace eso y te juro por mi madre santa que me puedo morir en paz.” – “He is awesome … And so sweet!!!!”

Numerous fans seem to regard this serenade as a celebration of romance, not as a concise portrayal of the contrived nature of all that is commonly regarded as romantic. Ah, Romance! Isn’t it so like women to set their hearts on settings in which there can be no truth?

Why do I find this routine disturbing when it delights so many? It must be because of the stark inequality written into this setup. On the one hand we have a masterly serenade by that adored star violinist, and on the other a random girl who wishes with all her heart that she were really his love and this act were genuine. But they both know it isn’t. To him, this knowledge is liberating and allows him to do his radiant best. To her, it is painful and restricting. While he is playing this beautiful love song to her, she is riveted to a chair in the glare of the spotlight. Thousands of eyes are glued to her face, enlarged on a huge screen behind her. No emotion remains hidden as she makes up her mind just how much of her inner life she is willing to share with the world. And all the while, David is playing his violin so joyfully, so flirty, so adorably – just as if Cupid himself were using her defenceless heart for target practice.

He is secure in his role, but she has no security, and no such role to cling to. In her life, this special moment is like a shooting star, here and gone in the blink of an eye. But for David and his team it is all part of the show, a routine repeated almost identically in Hamburg and Düsseldorf, in Lübeck and Nuremberg, in Magdeburg and Munich, in Rome and Vienna, in Verona, Milano, Moscow, Monterrey and Sao Paolo … And this is not a comprehensive list, you understand. This is just to give you some idea of the scope.

02 Your Song

But what about the girl, picked from obscurity for her photogenic looks and now doing her best to keep her composure? How does she cope with the sudden, searing nearness of her idol? Or with the fact that he is, for a few unforgettable moments, actually looking at her as if she were the girl of his dreams? That she suddenly feels his arm about her, leans her head on his shoulder, receives a light kiss on the side of her face … In the words of a fan: “If he did that to me, I’d die.”

The attention of the audience is focused on the girl. Her attention is focused on him. His attention is necessarily focused on his performance, as ever with complete commitment to the music. David doesn’t miss a beat and he hits no wrong notes, for his heart is unaffected. Despite the fact that he makes it look so damn easy, he is actually working, and the girl is just a pretty prop. She knows from the start that none of her natural, heartfelt responses can have a place here, and so she spends the entire time fighting them. She may hide her feelings in Germany, look for ways to express them in Russia, or fight tears of emotion in Italy. She knows she is privileged. But isn’t it a teeny-tiny bit like the privilege of an early Christian tossed to the lions for the amusement of the crowd? The whole scenario seems cruel to me, though of course it has considerable entertainment value.

I imagine that the painful joy of this experience will live in her memory for years to come, after she has received that final, gallant peck on the cheek and been waved back into the audience. How many nights will she be sobbing into her pillow, trying to recapture the magic of those moments? How often will she dream of him and long for what she knows to be impossible? What other man can hope to make her heart beat quite like it did then? How does she resume her former life?

Maybe I am wrong to be concerned. Maybe these girls really are able to take it all as the bit of lighthearted fun it is meant to be. Maybe they really don’t mind having their feelings played with in this way. Maybe they smile to themselves as they fall asleep, thinking what a lucky, lucky girl they are. After all, everyone tells them so. Maybe they feel they have been given a precious gift, to be treasured to the end of their days. And maybe it won’t interfere with their life, with their future love life, at all. I hope they don’t mind …

“I would have thrown my arms around him and never let him go,” comments one fan in ardent Spanish. But what would happen then? Think about it! Perceived as a threat to the precious violin, if not to him, such an impulsive girl would be dragged off instantly by the security team, in disgrace. And spoiling his show is not the way to David’s heart. This much we may safely assume. Another fan points out that this part of David’s performance must be hurtful to his girlfriend and that she could not be happy about it. It is surely a moot point. After all, this is just a show, staged for wide appeal and entertainment, and any girlfriend of David’s would have to know and accept it.

Other comments have suggested that these girls are not randomly picked at all but are part of the Garrett Team, or personal friends of his manager. But, observing the girls’ faces, it does seem they were unprepared for what was about to hit them. As David asks their name, where they come from and if they attend his show for the first time, there is a slight awkwardness in the exchange that would be hard to pretend. And surely even David Garrett’s team could not be made up of that many beautiful young women, for – excepting Carla from Spain, who was picked twice and set off all that speculation about how random these volunteers really are – it is indeed a different girl every time. So watch the footage and make up your own mind.

03 Your Song

By the way, David’s favourite seems to have been that classy young lady in Sao Paolo. She appears to be the only one about whom he made an indirect, appreciative comment after she had left the stage. But the one that touched me most is that sweet girl in Moscow who remained lively and natural in difficult circumstances. I hope she is recovering well … I hope they all are.

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To be continued with David Garrett’s Film. If you click ‘follow blog via email’ you won’t miss it.
To leave your comment, please click on the little orange ‘comments’ link next to the date, at the top of each article. This will open a box for you to write in, below the other comments. (After posting, your words will disappear from sight until they have been approved.) Apparently this tiny link is not user-friendly, for there have been questions repeatedly on how to leave a comment. So I hope this helps, because I love to hear from you …

(All photographs are screenshots drawn from YouTube, for the purpose of illustration only. I trust the authors will allow this use of their picture material. No copyright infringement is intended.)