In a newsletter published by his fantastic restaurant, Scarpetta, New York chef Scott Conant discusses his inspiration:
"... (Conant) uses food as a means to his endgame: extracting the goodness out of every ingredient and presenting it for the diner's enjoyment. 'There is no manipulation involved,' he warns. 'The idea is to take something, like a tomato or a piece of quail, and totally focus on what will make it great. And for it to evolve to another level, from a flavor perspective, it's not a cerebral effort, but a soulful one.'"
This last quote helps me answer my question. Connecting to the audience, like to the diner, is elemental and basic. It involves honing in on exactly what is special, exactly what needs to be said, and immersing your being in saying it clearly, making yourself vulnerable and open to the moment. I'm really not talking about instrumental technique, now, and I don't think Conant is talking about how to cook. I'm talking about communication. There's a huge difference between respecting that someone can play his instrument well and being moved towards tears or goosebumps or a smile by the way he plays. On the performer's side, it's probably very true that this is a soulful effort. And like with any communication, there are two parts,the listener bringing a willingness into the equation in the same way that a diner brings an appetite to the table.
Conant goes on: "How do I create 13 different flavors with one zucchini? It depends on when I take it off the fire in the cooking process. It's a progression from a completely raw state, to adding a bit of salt and olive oil and so on, to the final step when it is completely burnt. That's how I think about everything: as an evolution to the next level."
This also reminds me of what I work to accomplish. One simple flute, one simple zucchini. On the surface, most wouldn't expect much from either thing as a vehicle for artistry. But experimenting with the different ways that simplicity can evolve, and then with different ways that these evolutions can be presented to others forms the essence of creativity in communication.