Friday 25 Jul

TJ Mayes - "When Love Comes Down"

’50s era rock ’n’ roll had been long overdue for a rebirth. Thankfully, the stockpile of capable luminaries has not been in short supply over the past few years. 

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Boare - "playdatshit"

The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broncho - "Class Historian"

Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | 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?!