On occasions when visiting musician friends, they have played some music for me. On one memorable occasion long ago, a cellist friend, an outstanding performer, played a Bach cello sonata for me as a gift. I was deeply touched. Such precious moments create a bond and a mutual understanding through music. They are especially precious for me as I am not a musician, though they can also be disconcerting when I am asked to provide feedback. Such intimate musical engagement is impossible in the concert hall, where audience members are not only anonymous but passive observers — until the end when they (politely or enthusiastically) applaud.

1:1 Concerts hero image. Photograph © Greg Kerr

This year’s Adelaide Festival has programmed a total of 120 concerts where a solo performer plays a 10-minute work for a single audience member. In this scenario it is perhaps assumed that the performer and listener are unknown to each other and the performance becomes a way for them to get to know each other through non-verbal communication — the musical performance together with eye contact and body...

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