For several years, young concert artist and musical whiz kid John Man passionately hated music competitions. Although he competed in them regularly, he often told friends that he competed only for this reason or for that reason, or some other reason altogether.
“I don’t enter to win. I don’t want to win. I never even think about winning. Who cares about winning? Some winning-obsessed loser, that’s who.”
Man has spent the past few years telling friends, colleagues, family members, shop assistants, bank tellers and passing hobos that music competitions are absurd, immoral freakshows totally against the principles of art. “I think the real problem is that judges use their opinions, feelings, and musical expertise to make a subjective evaluation of the performer,” he explained to a small child playing in a yard. “What they should really do is know the objective truth and then just say that. Like, for example, who is the best? That’s what we want to know.”
Last week he discovered that his philosophy had changed dramatically, soon after he won first prize in a very important competition. “Most competition panels are indeed corrupt, but I was just lucky to get one of the good ones, I guess.” We wondered if this change of viewpoint was in any way related to his newfound success, but he quickly dismissed this idea. “I disagree with what I said back then.”
We spoke to Sally McNally who also competed in the very important competition but did not win any prizes. “I enter competitions all the time, mostly for this reason or that reason or another reason altogether, but now I’m starting to wonder…what happens if I die without ever having won a competition? Maybe I’ll have to regularly perform well throughout a long and satisfying career or something.”
We spoke to Enlightened Fatcat, the leading sponsor of the very important competition, and asked him why there are so many music competitions today. “Well, there’s just so much insecurity and professional anxiety out there in the music industry waiting to be harvested for spectacle. Someone has to do it.”
Random Guy, who we found on the street eating a cream egg, had a different theory. “Whenever I go to a concert I always make judgements about performers, some of which I cherish forever. But I get pretty tired doing that… I like it when competitions make those judgements for me, so I know which concerts I can say I enjoyed.”
Man is glad that now, after many years of hard work and personal sacrifices, he has a lovely sounding prize that he can put in his biography. “Any audience member can simply to flip to the back of the program and find out that I am good. It takes the pressure off my performance, certainly.”