To Entertain

My approach to the theater is to entertain.—George Balanchine

I have always considered that moment, when I sensed we really could reach an audience, the biggest thrill of my career, and I probably would have wept with gratitude except that tears would have smeared my makeup.—Twyla Tharp

In the opening essay in Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Michael Chabon writes, “…I read for entertainment, and I write to entertain. Period.”

After considering some other more lofty-sounding motivations, he continues:

But in the end—here’s my point—it would still all boil down to entertainment, and its suave henchman, pleasure. Because when the axe bites the ice, you feel an answering throb of delight all the way from your hands to your shoulders, and the blade tolls like a bell for miles.

In a later inspiring passage he writes:

The original sense of the word “entertainment” is a lovely one of mutual support through intertwining, like a pair of trees grown together, interwoven, each sustaining and bearing up the other. It suggests a kind of midair transfer of strength, contact across a void, like the tangling of cable and steel between two lonely bridgeheads. I can’t think of a better approximation of the relation between reader and writer.

As a composer, on numerous occasions I have experienced such transfers of strength from the reactions of audience members. Such experiences—such “contacts across a void”—have been immeasurably valuable to me. They inspire me to compose new works, and to make each of them as engaging and entertaining as I can.