After a gentle clearing of her throat, the speech of the audience fades into silence. Emboldened, the performer’s fingertips dance with a rippling motion along the strings of her delicately tooled instrument, sending a thrill of dramatic notes soaring over the rapt listeners. She draws a deep breath, and at precisely the right pitch and time, her lips part as she accompanies the music in a perfect contralto. Beads of perspiration form at her brow in concentration and she smiles to herself, knowing that she is playing the crowd just as skillfully as the instrument in her hands.

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