To get the most out of a concert it helps to be as familiar as possible with the music you’re about to hear, particularly if it is something foreign to you, that uses a different musical language.
It’s a bit like meeting someone at a party, you might think you have nothing in common but then some moment in conversation will spark a connection and you want to get to know that person better, what makes them tick, their view of the world.
As a young music student I used to have my own set of irrational musical likes and dislikes. I had a real irritation with the music of the American ‘chance’ composer John Cage. It seemed more philosophy than music and I treated it with defensive snobbery, my ears were closed to it. Fast forward to a family trip to London in 1982, where I went to see an old school friend dance with Sadler’s Wells Ballet. It was a contemporary program and one piece was set to an amazing composition for piano that had been surgically implanted with various nuts and bolts transforming it into a full...