"I was strolling through the Cleveland Museum of Art, enjoying the magnificent paintings and sculptures- a lovely way to spend a rainy fall day. After rounding a corner in that labyrinth building, I found myself startlingly near a wall of paint which jumped off the canvas in huge sloppy globs of greasy color. Clearly I had made a turn out of the beauty of Renaissance figures and into some modern exhibit. Not wanting to disturb my placid afternoon with violently splattered colors, I quickly crossed the room in search of the nearest door, only turning at the last moment to take a farewell glance at the room.
I was stunned. There, taking up the entire far wall was that most famous of Monet's paintings: the Water Lilies. Had I really been allowed to stand so close to such a priceless masterwork? How could I have failed to recognize it? Weighed down by these thoughts, I sank onto a nearby bench.
We have all seen this painting hundreds of times- on calendars, on greeting cards, screen savers… my roommate even had a high-quality framed poster of the work. All lovely, yet none even touched on the breathtaking reality of looking at the actual work of art. Even at a distance, the paints leapt off the canvas, creating a depth which pulled me in, making that pond feel more real than the sharp white walls which were actually around me. Moving to another bench closer and to one side, the painting changed entirely. Mesmerized, I lost myself in that one painting until the museum closed. Since then I have seen Water Lilies a hundred more times, but now I feel disappointed with looking at these dull attempts at reproduction. Sure, they are pretty, but they are copies of art, not the real thing. A painting can only be art, can only move us as was intended, if we stand in its presence, breathe the air which touches it.
As a musician, I realized that sound, even more than painting, requires life. A recording of great music, like a poster of a great painting, is very enjoyable, but it is only a pale imitation of the experience of a concert. Music is a living art form, meaning it only exists in the moment it is actually being created by living musicians. When that moment is gone, so is the art, belonging only in the souls of those lucky enough to have been living in that moment. Music must be live."
~Jo Nardolillo 2006