Audience of One

The house lights slowly faded to black, leaving a hushed silence in place of the excited murmurings that had so recently filled the air. A lone spotlight shone down on the stage, highlighting in bright white luminescence the place where the performer would soon appear. His coming had been lauded in every form of media in the days and weeks preceding this moment, eagerly anticipated by critic and fan alike.

The quiet “clock clock” sound of shoes could be heard echoing in the thick, black darkness, and after a few moments, a silhouette emerged, stepping forward from the shadows as if into blazing daylight. The audience erupted into applause as he took his place in the spotlight, giving a nod to the concertmaster that he was ready to begin.

Taking a breath, he closed his eyes. Pulling back slowly on the bow, the smooth melody began filling the air, each note deliberately, elegantly played, dancing off of the ceiling and walls before falling onto the ears of the audience as if they were drops from a gentle spring shower slipping delicately through the sky onto the ground below.

As the concert continued on, many pieces were played. The audience took each in as if they were chapters of a book, each one a part of an intricately woven story – some echoing thoughts of hope, some pain, some sadness, and some joy.

By the time the performance had drawn to a close, there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen. The rounds of applause that followed once again quieted into the still murmurings of innumerable conversations as people slipped from the auditorium, leaving one sole figure sitting at the front of the stage.

Soon afterward, the auditorium was once again bustling with activity and sound, but this time, it was the sound of cleaning, of sweeping, of the putting away of chairs and equipment. Still, the lone figure sat at the front of the stage.

As the performer walked across the once grand, intimidating platform, one of the workers stopped to compliment him on his beautiful performance. During the course of their conversation, the topic of the man still sitting before them came up. The performer commented, “He is my father. Over the course of many years he has taught me how to play; at first I made many mistakes, but he is very patient. Sometimes I still make mistakes as I perform, and some of them are big ones. But when that happens, he lovingly corrects and teaches me, and helps me to become a better musician. He cherishes the time we get to spend together. The music I perform is his ongoing masterpiece, a beautiful work he has written just for me to play. As time passes, it continues to become more intricate and beautiful.

When I stand on stage, I see only him, I play for him. He is my audience of one. By performing in this way, the complaints of the critics do not crush me, nor do the cheers of the audience make me confident in myself. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the applause, or that I don’t consider the criticism. But rather, the opinion that matters most is that of the one who not only taught me how to play, but also has given me the music to perform.”