Sunday, May 8, 2011

Effort Undefined

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work".

French writer Emile Zola is credited with these words . Coming off of the 25th anniversary concert of the Indianapolis Children's Choir last night, these words ring true. The sheer number of hours worked by hundreds of people - before the concert even began - is staggering.

ICC founder and artistic director Henry Leck had the vision - and those around him believed in it enough to help supply the effort. Effort is somewhat a mystery. We all know it is needed to do a job well; but how much more to really be outstanding?

Art in particular is somewhat difficult to gauge the success of. A business owner can check her bank account. A student has their GPA. A runner can clock his time. Art is a bit more intangible. The same lack of boundaries that draw some people to arts various forms - that fills their creative soul just by taking part in it - is also what makes it hard to measure. When does art go from merely good to touching the heart of an audience?

Should the conductor run the rehearsal just 5 more minutes? Should the violinist challenge herself with a more difficult piece? Should the dancer prepare a little longer? Should the film maker revise the script just one more time? Should the plein air painter paint again because the sun moved more to the west? It's hard to know.

However, when the right amount of effort is indeed put forth, it's crystal clear.