03. May 2005 · Comments Off on The Performer’s Life · Categories: imported, Ramble

Now I’m a performer, tis true. But I don’t have weekly performances. Symphony Silicon Valley has seven two-performance sets a year. Each of these sets includes four rehearsals and then the two performances, which take place from Wednesday through Sunday. Opera San Jose does four operas a year, and we usually have seven rehearsals (sometimes eight) and eight performances (down from the fourteen we had last year in the smaller hall). I get other jobs, of course, and I certainly do keep busy enough. I have Nutcracker each year (so far), and usually get a show or two a year. But it’s not like the musicians in a major symphony orchestra who work almost constantly, playing on stage with the same group of musicians.

So when Jessica Duchen writes about the stress on musicians, I am assuming she’s talking about those sorts of players. I do wonder, sometimes, how they maintain their sanity … or IF they do!

Then there’s the stress that we all have to deal with (some of us just don’t deal with it as frequently). She wrote about it here:

To me the psychological fright is the worst thing: knowing that on x day at y hour you have to stand up in z venue and play something as close to downright perfect as is humanly possible and there is no way round this but straight through the middle.

But I wonder if some of the hardened pros in the top groups don’t encounter the nerve stuff as much. I know that for certain kinds of jobs even I really don’t feel any fear. Sometimes I even have solos in those jobs. They usually take place in a pit. I’m SUCH a child! I get less nervous if I can’t see the audience well … I guess it’s the “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me” thing. And of course lots of times they can’t see me. But surely they can hear me and that’s what music is all about, so why that doesn’t stress me out I can’t say!

Hmmm. I DID get nervous for Dutchman though, even though I was in the pit. I think it was because the one (the only scary) solo was the “enter all alone after a brief silence” sort. Those, for me, are always stressful, whether I’m seen or not, unless I’m playing on my “own time”. It’s not having control of time, maybe, that freaks me out so much, because when I play unaccompanied works and I’m in control it’s not the same. Then I don’t feel much pressure at all.

Maybe I just want control. Yes, indeed, I’ve been called a control freak by many a good (and observant) person!

03. May 2005 · Comments Off on Reviews of Symphony Silicon Valley · Categories: imported, Links

San Francisco Classical Voice

Mercury News (registration required, I believe)


03. May 2005 · Comments Off on More on TAFTO · Categories: imported, Ramble

… and it happens to be my little write up. Fun!

So of course I’ve been thinking about this more.

I’m an introvert. A pretty extreme introvert, in fact. But I come out of my shell when I have an oboe in hand. I even come out of my shell when I’m just talking about oboe, or about music in general. I also escaped the shell when I did my “Contemplative Christmas” programs which included music and poetry … and I actually wrote and recited some of that poetry! I sure miss those days! But back to the subject at hand … I wish there were a way to get to mingle with the audience. I wish we had less formal concerts where we actually talked a bit to audience members.

Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to be able to tell them “This next piece is really difficult. It scares me a lot. I have this exposed part and sometime that first note … well … I’m always worried that it won’t come out! But I have to make it sound easy or you won’t be comfortable. And if I blow it I can’t let you know so I have to look like I’m just fine with what I just did.” Or to actually confess “Sometimes I think, “This is it. I’m going to walk off the stage now. I’m just going to do it. I’m tired of being stressed.” Or, especially to say, “This piece makes me cry. But I can’t cry when I play because that doesn’t exactly work, so I’m crying inside. It’s so beautiful it just makes me ache. It’s so full of glory (or passion, or angst, or joy, or, or, or …) and words can’t come close to expressing what it does to me.

I remember listening to a recording of a work with a friend once. The piece got to a certain absolutely wondrous point and the friend grabbed my arm and squeezed it, HARD, and then said, “Do you hear that? DO YOU? Is that incredible? And I did hear it. And it was incredible.

That’s what I want audiences to get.

So maybe I need to sit in the audience sometimes and squeeze someone’s arm.