In February of this year, I performed “Rhapsody in Blue” with an orchestra… kinda. It was with the whatever-orchestra-is-featured on the Music Minus One recording, edited for timing and played on my iphone with computer speakers. Fortunately my sister had called during a tech run through so I remembered to put it in airplane mode for the performance.
I sat on the gala committee for the California State Parks Foundation in place of my boss. As an auction item, I donated a private, in-home recital. It was bid on by the daughter of one of the trustees, Anne Youngblood -- and the performance ended up being at The Beach Club in Santa Monica.
This was the first time I was on stage solo in forever. But it was billed as a part of the “Great Speaker” series which had included a cardiologist, a tennis pro, an astronaut (well, maybe not, but you get the idea). This meant constructing an “entertaining” story to go along with the music. I think I asked the coordinator at the club if it really had to be entertaining, and she rolled her eyes and shoved a glass of wine in my hand.
The thing I knew I would do would be “Pictures at an Exhibition” which would kill half the time. And then, because I really can’t start practicing anything until the last minute, I was trying every piece under the sun to see what fit… Bach’s “Italian Concerto”, Beethoven’s “Pathetique Sonata”, the “Toccata Opus 11” by Prokofiev, Mozart’s “Twinkle Variations”…. All with the intent of picking a couple of ones that were passable to round out the program. It should be noted that none of those were performed due to lack of passability.
That’s not really true. I had been tinkering around with “Rhapsody in Blue”. Several days prior to the event, I was told there were only going to be 20 people in attendance, so I decided I could cart my computer speakers and play to the MMO with my iphone. Gershwin + Mussorgsky severely cut into my one hour of performance time. So I added the “Moonlight Sonata”, a couple of tidbits, plus the Shotakovich “Piano Concerto #2”, 2nd movement as an encore, and… program!
I’m not going to lie, it was really amazing not having to do one bit of producing for this event. I just showed up. What? My friend Nitya and I got there early, said hello and wandered around the Beach Club for an hour, and then it began. The 20 people turned into a full dining room of 60. (I felt bad. I had only printed 35 programs and had stolen 5.) Anne, and her husband, Ben, were the most gracious hosts and had invited their friends. And what was truly amazing was that aside from Nitya, none of these people were my friends. They had just come to see the show.
It is no secret that I like performing with other people. It is a boost of confidence, and it engages you and makes you listen. But I think it also helps quell a bit of stage fright. When I first performed “Pictures” in 2012, there was so much else going on in my head (see performance blog below), that it was very difficult to concentrate on the piece. And with two more years of experience under my belt, this time was a really different story. Was it perfect? No. But honestly, it was such a more polished and confident performance… and relaxed… and I can officially say that I have added it to my repertoire.
The evening was capped off by the most amazing dinner and conversation. And for the first time in months, even though this performance was a little smaller and more informal, I felt satisfied that I had accomplished something, and enjoyed it.