In the wake of the Trondheim competition, I’ve been thinking about the gap between the jury’s taste and the public’s taste in performers. Several times during the competition I happened to bump into members of the public in the coffee shop, or in the foyers of the concert hall, and got chatting to them about their favourite players in the competition. I couldn’t tell them what I thought, of course, but I allowed myself to ask them for their views.
I was repeatedly struck by the fact that their selection was never the same as the jury’s. It’s probably simplistic to say so, but I often felt the public’s approval tended to fall on groups with a very showy platform manner, groups who had taken great trouble over their appearance, or groups which happened to feature a particularly good-looking person. The jury was not immune to those factors, naturally, but they came lower down our list of priorities. Maybe I just happened upon an un-representative selection of audience members, but I became conscious of their disappointment when certain groups didn’t do as well as they had expected. There was no forum in which the jury could explain what they were listening for and why – the audience just had to accept our decisions, as the competitors did. But I was a little sad that we and the audience didn’t always see eye to eye on those decisions. For one thing, I’d like to think that the jury is identifying a new generation of musicians whom the public will love and appreciate.