Musician Siri Bardarson revels in the pleasures of hearing live music

Posted in Blogs, Music, Theater and Dance

SIRI BARDARSON, Nov. 23, 2012

“Alive Audience”

I have been in the audience a lot lately.

Thanks to invitations and gracious ticket giveaways by friends, I’ve attended four symphony concerts of late. I’ve sat in good seats, bad seats, right-up-front and way-in-the-back seats and regardless, I’ve been reminded of the thrill of listening as participation in a work of art. As a musician who ascribes to the religion of “Live music is best,” I’m on a spiritual high, let me tell you!

The bass section of the Whidbey Island Community Orchestra rehearses recently with Debra Knight, Elliott Matteson and Sylvie Kaul-Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Susan Hanzelka)

Listening to a symphonic work is like having my Tarot cards read. That is to say, be it the appearance of the Fool in the Tarot card layout or the perfectly composed chord played by the woodwinds beneath the singing violin, I have this chance to respond to the archetype. My feelings, buried way deep down in this Scandinavian girl, who is more a “human doing” than a human being, the feelings that I don’t, can’t and won’t acknowledge show up anyway. I can hear a work many times and, even though I have a favorite part, my current reality shapes the experience.  Maybe this is a function of all art – to nudge or lead, to be forever unresolved and always asking the questions that have no answers.

When I lived in the Deep South for a few years,  my husband and I decided to join the crowd and go to church.  Every Sunday as I sat in my pew, I cried. I mentioned this to a friend and he said, “When you join, you’ll stop crying.”

Maybe that is the symphony experience too; that humbling reminder of how human I am, when I can fully inhale the huge scope of symphonic work, all the moving parts, the incredible choreography of the composition, the breathtaking beauty of human discipline and skill.  Isn’t it wonderful to be a human being? Isn’t it beautiful and painful and relentless?  I am always overcome this way. This sounds kind of selfish; but it’s just me.

Concertmaster Roxallanne Medley and Gloria Ferry-Brennan, both violinists in Whidbey Island’s Saratoga Orchestra, pay close attention to their conductor. (Photo courtesy of Saratoga Orchestra)

There are other ways to go about being in the audience. There is my petty, unsettled way, which is an experience fully controlled by my egocentric monkey mind that will, in spite of having the best seat in the house at a wonderful concert, remind me that the lawn needs mowing or that will judge the person who wrote the program notes because he has done a lousy job, or overly scrutinize the orchestra members noticing  just how may shades of black actually can exist in concert attire, or focus on the petty fact that many people don’t comb the hair on the backs of their heads. Hmmm. Human for sure.

I aspire to the other way; to participate in a great work of art as a willing audience member and be opened up and renewed in a deeply personal way.

Yes to life, I say! Yes to: “Live music is best!”

Go. Go and experience it for yourself.

Siri Bardarson is a musician devoting this year to creative projects that synthesize her classical and popular music backgrounds via her new electric cello. She is ecstatically happy!

Upcoming music events:

  • Whidbey Island Community Orchestra’s Fall Concert will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 at Langley Methodist Church in the Fellowship Hall. For more information email
  • Saratoga Orchestra will hold a Handel’s “Messiah” sing-a-long at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 at First Reformed Church, Oak Harbor and at 7 p.m. the same day at Trinity Lutheran Church, Freeland. Information is at
  • Seattle Symphony Orchestra schedule of performances is at

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