How Would You Perform?

I am just standing in a queue at Heathrow airport waiting for my flight to Lausanne, Switzerland where I will be performing at the Salle Métropole. On this occasion I will be performing the world première of Cosmos by Jean-Luc Darbellay.

As I wait my turn I think about the journey I have taken so many times to reach this point of performing a world première. As part of the journey my performance will be critiqued and it set me  thinking about how you would feel if you went to work one day to be told your performance that day would be reviewed by a journalist and it would appear in The Times!

As musicians we are critiqued for most performances we give and the comments are printed for all to read and often nowadays there will be an additional poor quality video posted on YouTube taken on a mobile phone just for good measure!

How would you review your own performance?

How would you prepare?

My preparation often involves the most mundane processes such as pacing a distance between an imaginary instrument set up. A composer may decide to use a lot of instruments and I am not always able to position them in my studio the way they will be on stage so I ‘pace’ the imaginary distances in my lounge! My neighbours probably think I am quite potty!

If you were subject to such reviews how would you structure your day? Would you do things differently? How would you feel if your day was scrutinised and laid out for others to judge and how would you feel about being judged by others in this way?

I am not a judgemental type of person and of course I don’t have to read the reviews. But somehow it is a useful benchmark to have and be aware of and on some occasions really nice and interesting things are said about me which are always welcome. I try to analyse objectively the less kind reviews and of course just like you I need to balance the comments against many other factors that the critic would not be aware of.

We all go to work with some degree of ‘baggage’ and I am no different. I try very hard to approach each event with minimal baggage impact but I am sure that sometimes a little seeps out! When I meet a new orchestra it is critical that we begin to work together as a team from the first meeting – we cannot take time to ‘gel’ or slowly build up to a good working relationship purely because we will be performing in concert within hours of our first meeting. We may not even have time to know everyone by name or casually chat over the coffee machine. From the minute we start rehearsals we need to bring the music together.

Let me know about your day and how you would deal with published reviews – I really am interested.

Have a great day – I know I will!

Image: mariejirousek (licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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