Monday 21 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Amateur musicians vie for a title...

Amateur musicians vie for a title in 'They Came to Play,' a documentary that explores competition

Doug Bentin June 24th, 2010

They Came to Play is a sly title. The movie isn't about sports, as is implied. Rather, it's about people with a competitive spirit that, while not duplicating that of the big-time athlete, suggests ...

"They Came to Play" is a sly title. The movie isn't about sports, as is implied. Rather, it's about people with a competitive spirit that, while not duplicating that of the big-time athlete, suggests it.

Alex Rotaru's documentary follows the lives of several contestants in the Fifth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation on the Texas Christian University campus.

The players come from all over the world. Seventy-five musicians begin, then 50 are cut for the second round, and the finals are comprised of just six. It's hard to imagine playing piano all your life and then being given 10 minutes to show your stuff.

The film, which screens Friday to Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, raises two central questions.

First: Is the difference between a professional and an amateur merely one of if and how much you're being paid? This is of particular interest in an area " or "market," as the pros refer to it " like ours when so many artists, performing and otherwise, may or may not get paid to produce their work, but still have to hold regular employment in an unrelated field just to keep body and soul together.

As one contestant in the film, Henri Robert Delbeau, a doctor, says, "I have a day job, so I'm not too worried." Another confesses that not having to rely on music for a living frees him to find it within himself.

The other big question is, if you have a talent, are you obligated in any way to use it? Most of these musicians abandoned playing the piano for several years as they concentrated on making a living or raising a family, or both, but the prevailing feeling is that, yes, if you can create or interpret beauty, you owe it to the human race to do so.

But back to the pro-am question. What I saw was that many of these people didn't pursue going pro, because they lacked that obsessive quality that would force them to practice 10 hours a day and a willingness to be separated from their loved ones for months at a time. To them, music is an important thing, but it isn't the only thing.

Two of the people we spend time with are very different, despite their similarities. One is Greg Fisher, who runs a glass shop in Edmond. The other is Drew Mays, an opthamologist from Birmingham, Ala. Both are outgoing and honest about why they stayed amateurs. Mays comes out with the most honest statement about performing: "Doing it in front of people is a lot different from doing it in your boxers in your living room at midnight."

We hear bits of their performances, but the film's emphasis is on the spirit of the competitors and not on the music itself. Rotaru's movie breaks no new ground as a documentary and could be, as art, the work of a gifted amateur.

The fascination comes from being in the company of people whose personalities are not that different from our own, but who have extraordinary talent. "Doug Bentin
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07.17.2011 at 02:27 Reply

How and why does the title suggest it's a sports movie?! Are you so biased and blinded by barbarism that you can't for a moment think of anything else?!