Since I spend so much time alone in my practice studio, I like to surround myself with things that will inspire me while I'm there. Lots of color, works of art, postcards, even pretty rocks I've found along the way, beam at me from the walls and shelves. And on my music stand, I keep a bunch of quotes that have inspired me over the years.
I want to make sure that every time I come to the music, I'm encouraged and ready to bring my best intentions to the experience. Since the Beethoven performance is now less than a week away, I've been particularly paying attention to this quote, from cellist Gyorgy Sebok:
"Whatever you do stays forever in people's minds. That can be scary, and fear is the
worst adviser because love and fear don't live easily together. Love of music should dominate. The fight is not between the instrument and the person, but it is within the person; the performer fights himself. To win the fight over yourself means resistance to fear, usually very primitive fear, but that fear can be given up. One has to accept that to be human is to be fallible, and then do the best one can and be captured by the music."
I was talking with a friend today about the difference between listening to a recording versus being present at a live performance. When we are all at the Capitol Theater, we all create the music together; the audience, orchestra, conductor, soloists - we all breathe and feel together, and something alchemical happens. Music is a living art, because it happens in time, and then is gone, so there is something very paradoxical about recording it. We all certainly have recordings we cherish, but in the recording studio the artists don't have the benefit of that audience energy reverberating through their performance. Yet we do have technology that allows us to snip and piece together all the best takes, and create a crystallized, perfect still life of the music.
In a live performance, stuff happens. Strings break, sweat drips, some moments soar higher than ever before, some sputter. It's thrilling! And incredibly humbling. This is what it is to be human, pushing ourselves to find our limits on any given day. Once all the preparation is done, and you walk out in front of a couple thousand people to play, you surrender your ego (since that's where fear stems from), and try to blend yourself into the music.
So this week will be about telling myself to trust the music, trust my body and mind, and trust my colleagues and fellow music-lovers who gather on Saturday night.