TEDxAmsterdam 2012 Daria van den Bercken - A State of Wonder

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 07.12.2012

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here today on this stage
because I've done some things a musician normally wouldn't do.
I flew 30 meters high over a crowd of thousands of people in Brazil,
playing the piano, playing music by Handel.
I also drove, here in Amsterdam, over cobblestones,
playing on a piano towed by a car and also playing Handel.
Let's watch some clips.
(Video) (Music)
All this was really fun to do. It was an amazing experience.
Magical for hundreds of different reasons.
But the big question, I logically started to ask myself, was --
Why on Earth would I do such a thing?
Why would I kind of risk my life dangling on a bungee cord
and why would I go over cobblestones in Amsterdam?
And actually the moment we hit a bridge I lost all control over the keyboard.
Well, my answer is -- that I really very badly want to share this music.
I want to share it with everybody who's willing to hear it.
And that is because I fell in love with this music.
It happened two years ago. I was sitting in my couch
here in Amsterdam, and I had the flu.
And I was browsing on the internet a little.
Handel caught my eye and I was looking him up.
And I found out that he had written pieces
for the keyboard I had never heard before.
And this is quite odd. I had never heard it on CD before,
or on the radio, or heard it live.
So I downloaded the sheet music,
put it on my piano stand, and started playing it through.
And what happened next was something I can only describe as my --
personal state of wonder.
It hit a really deep chord within me.
And let me illustrate. The first piece I played through was this --
And it went on. And I could describe this --
For me it felt like it was a beautiful melancholy,
really beautiful melancholy, without dwelling into total sorrow.
I finished the piece, I flipped the page
and the next thing I played was this.
(Piano Music)
Well, that's completely different, isn't it? A total contrast. (Applause)
Thank you.
It was an absolute contrast in piece to the first.
So what happened there, in my room, here in Amsterdam
was that within 3 minutes I experienced what I would say
are two vital human expressions: melancholy and pure vibrant energy.
So, that's how I got addicted to this music.
I give a lot of children concerts in Holland.
And sometimes I get classes of 7 and 8 year-olds.
And anything I put in front of them, whether it is Bach, Beethoven,
Schumann or some jazz, they are really open to it.
They always listen and I feel I can reach them.
It is as if they are in a constant state of wonder.
And sometimes I get classes where they are just a few years older.
And I don't know exactly what has happened,
and I'm not sure if I reached them actually, because --
Is it peer pressure? You know, friends telling you what you should like?
Or is it the media telling you what you're supposed to like?
But sometimes I already get a critical glance and I'm not sure if they really liked it.
And I remember it, from my own youth.
It's such a shame that growing up that seems to kind of vanish.
I also remember when I was 8 I listened wholeheartedly
to music that I'd never heard before,
and I would run to my mom and dad, saying, "you have to listen to this."
So, I experience now that the positive thing of growing up
is that I don't have to run to my mom and dad, saying "listen to this."
But I create the possibility to share it with a wider audience.
And I think that's how I ended up 30 meters high.
All these realizations that I seemingly had lost, this "state of wonder," for a while --
until I heard Hendel, made me really curious about other people,
and, specially for this TEDx event today, I went with my friends outside here,
in front of the building, 2 weeks ago and tried a little experiment.
Let's look at it.
DB: Ready? Man: Yeah.
Man: OK. Honest opinion? DB: Honest.
Man: Ok. I'm going to give you an image. The first thing I thought about was of horses.
DB: Horses?
Man: Yeah, I had an image of horses and well trained horses as well.
Lady: It's a bit too cold for the music right now. It should be a little warmer,
with sunshine and a glass of white wine. Things like that.
Lady: I'd like to be at home and doing things.
DB: Doing things? Lady: Yeah, during this music.
DB: Why doing things?
Lady: Because it brings you into a rhythm where you can see
and do more than you would do without the music.
Man: I think it's a very serene type of music and the type of music
you really need to sit down to listen to.
And it's maybe not even the type of music you would listen to at work,
because it requires actual attention.
BD:You're working out with it? Woman: Yeah, I love it.
DB: Seriously?
Woman: Yeah, with a loud classical music it's really, really nice.
DB: Great! Woman: I always do that. Nice!
Man: I don't like classical music, I don't have a feeling about it, nothing.
BD: No feeling, none whatsoever?
Man: It's very nice, it's optimistic, happy. It reminded me of my father
because my father also played the "klave." How do you say "klave" in English?
That instrument is like a piano but for church.
DB: Harpsichord.
Man: Harpsichord, yeah, in English. It's very, very nice.
It made me feel like I want to hear it played by him.
DB: Great ! Thank you so much. Man: Thank you.
Well the funny part is that I was hoping for any reaction at all.
It was actually quite scary to do this.
And I ended up with so many different reactions.
So many diverse reactions, and it really made me happy
because if you get to one, and well, so many different responses
to one and the same piece, to me that feels like -- Ok, then it's really great music.
I cannot tell these people's minds, of course, but I really started,
stretching my boundaries as a musician, to see if I can get to people unexpectedly.
Because, for me, the most beautiful moment in performance art
is when I can convey my state of wonder at exactly the same moment
that you are open to hear it, when you are listening without prejudice.
So, I thought about it. Let's make a deal.
You'll pretend to be 7 for a while, while I'll conclude this talk by playing.
And of course it's going to be Handel.
(Piano Music)