Birds of a Feather by Chip Michael

Musicians that don’t live together can still play together. Check out the symphony by Chip Michael.

Birds of a Feather by Chip Michael

How do you get musicians to play a symphony when they don’t live together?

Ask composer Chip Michael.

Pure acoustics unamplified

We get so used to amplified background music that we forget what pure, unamplified foreground music sounds like.

One of the reasons why I so enjoyed the choral concert I attended two days ago was that it was not amplified. Even the conductors abandoned the microphones to speak directly to the audience. Now you might exclaim, what’s the big deal? Of course it should not be amplified.

Neither were the Hawaiian Youth Symphony (HYS) concert and the Maui Pops Orchestra & San Francisco Pocket Opera production of “The Elixir of Love” amplified at the Castle Theatre in Maui. Except for the soloists in the HYS (which I did not think needed it), nothing was amplified. But the sound engineer could not wait to flip on background (amplified) music before and between the performances. I preferred to hear the sound of the audience rather than recorded music to fill the void.

The unamplified sound of a rehearsal of Handel’s Water Music in the big concert hall of the Utrecht Conservatory in the Netherlands was infinitely better than the live performance outdoors on the canal the next day. Why? Because the latter was amplified. [For more, visit the 10th paragraph in this blog post.]

Something I notice in Maui and elsewhere in the USA, there is constant background music filling the air space in hotel lobbies, shopping malls, department stores, restaurants and other places. Even when there is no music, an eternal fountain of noise is stifling the silence.

I daresay from years of working with classical musicians that they prefer to have pure silence when they are not making music. The ears need a rest. The ears need recharging.

I get annoyed when told by the guitarist to close the lid on the piano because it’s too loud. Equally, he gets annoyed when he has to use amplification to bring out the sound of the guitar. We as a piano guitar duo prefer not to use any amplification. We adapt to the acoustics, just as any classical music performer would, not with amplification or filter.

No, I don’t have a portable electric keyboard. No, Robert Bekkers does not have an amplifier for his acoustic guitar. We produce music the way we hear it for you to hear it —- pure and unamplified. Of course, it won’t sound the same outdoors. The instruments have to be amplified outdoors as we experienced it in Cape Town and Provence.

Below, amplified background music of slide guitar as audiences leave the Castle Theatre for the Yokouchi Pavillion in the Maui Arts and Cultural Centre.