Then by night blue flowers shine in the dark – Linda Hogan

March 7, 2016

I had a very special experience while playing a concert on the weekend: it seemed like a good idea to open with an improvisation. The spontaneous creation led straight into the first programmed work winding up on the first note of the opening piece. Something told me to wait for the nervous energy to dissipate before moving into the official program. The transition worked remarkably well, putting me right into the zone where I could give maximum expression the to programmed work. The success of this gambit inspired me to try this again in the next piece which is a 20 minute work featuring many repeated phrases, all four measures long. The extemporaneous interlude between the first and last two pieces gave the audience [and me] a break from the predictable phrase lengths and injected some unpredictable moments. I was then able to resume the programmed work with renewed focus.

This reminds me of a story told by one of my university teachers about a trip a class took to see a North Indian classical music concert. After arriving the class was boisterous, acting like they were there to be entertained, as if the performance was a button to push. The presenter saw this and worried because this is not the way “into” Indian classical music. He waited, concerned before finally going to the stage to “show them a very important part of the experience”. He began teaching them a devotional Sanskrit chant. The students were happy to be kept busy for a while, and as they sang their mood changed from overexcited to attentive and calm. When the presenter felt the energy change, he introduced the performer and all went well.

It is like I was both the animated students and the presenter. I have music to share but I have to get myself into the right frame of mind to do so. As a classically trained musician the ethos is you rehearse then you go out and do it the same way. I am finding a desire to play my own music more spontaneously. After a massive amount of preparation, I then search for new ways to play things, like a conductor mediating between sounds and spaces. Creating the right pacing to make the most impact. Perhaps this is my way of keeping things fresh.

Nasrudin had been a widower for a while so he asked his friends to help. They found a suitable bride and exactly seven days after the wedding the happy couple became parents. Nasrudin ran to the market to purchase paper, pencils and books. He hurried home, and still breathing hard from this exertion, put these things beside the newborn baby. His new wife was curious and asked, “Nasrudin, the baby won't have any use for these things for a long time, why the hurry?”
“ My darling bride, do the arithmetic: a baby that arrives in seven days rather than nine months, will need these things in three weeks at most.”