Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Drawing Board

Last Friday, Myra and I traipsed out on stage, and our program (minus the few little moments of unanticipated excitement that are the "magic" of live performance) flowed easily and naturally – our music-making pliable, in the moment, and fun. Having a couple of performances under our belts at that point, our knowledge and command of the program was such that we were able to bend and shape things according to each nuance of storytelling that wanted to express in the moment, making us feel like we were doing our best to serve the muses of music and drama. After the concert, we headed back over to the Upper West Side to celebrate with drinks and food, and then I took the rest of the weekend to relax and enjoy what felt like a successful month of recitals.

Tuesday arrived, and I looked at the calendar and noticed all of my upcoming projects that had been sitting on the backburner these past two months as I focused to try to get through the chaotic hell of the holidays, the turning of the new leaf that was my 30th birthday, and the intense period of preparation for these recitals. I headed off to a voice lesson Tuesday evening, and started to work on some Stravinsky and some Britten. The phrases felt uncoordinated and unrefined, the words felt clumsy in my mouth, and I found that I was often unsure of where I wanted things to go. There was a fair amount of stopping and starting as we woodshed, and the progress we made was slow and arduous. It felt like I was a toddler taking my very first steps all over again. I looked back on all the hard work I had done for the past two and a half months on the recital program, and realized that I took it for granted. I saw that I was expecting the same artistic command to just be there with this newer music that I was only starting to tackle. Walking to dinner afterward, I tried to let go of my impatience and frustration and sought the grace to be a beginner again with each step through the snowy streets of Manhattan.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about finishing with some music and finding starting again quite slow and painful.
But you can take some joy in fresh musical exploration, sometimes moreso than singing a song with which you are very familiar with, maybe even over-familiar.
I recently stumbled upon your blog via another blog, and am enjoying every update.

Anonymous said...

I meant to write to thank you for your very moving and thought-provoking recital, but I let the moment pass. Then yesterday I was at Carnegie Hall for the Creation; I was disappointed to hear that James Taylor, whom I quite like, was indisposed. But I cannot tell you how thrilled I was at the announcement that you would be singing in his place! I would guess it must have been an extremely last-minute substitution, since they didn't even have time to print a program slip. Is it as terrifying as I imagine to step in to a performance so late? But you gave a truly lovely performance--the aria of the creation of man and woman was particularly beautiful, I thought. Congratulations!