Monday, September 20, 2010

No, I won't fall into your trap!

As artists, we are given permission on that one day we pass into the "professional" world of art making to feel content with knowing that sometimes what we present to the public is not "perfect".  However, it is a huge struggle to see the picture from both vantage points; from our angle where we know everything that should happen and when it should have happened, or from the audiences vantage point which in general knows none of that.  When I am working with a student who is about to perform a piece in a couple days and they are still having troubles with sections, whether because they continue to neglect to prepare it correctly or it is going to just take more time I find myself saying quite often, "no one knows the piece, just perform it and look like you know what you are doing."

We ride a fine line between doing a performance that we may feel wasn't the best and standing tall for our admiring audience while graciously thanking them for all their compliments.  Which, let me remind you that their take on the performance is so different from your take on the final product than you can possibly imagine.  We are so far away from what the general public sees that it is amazing we still beat ourselves up over mistakes we make in performance.

I was recently re-reminded that it is very rude to tell your audience, whether an artist or general public, that their opinion was wrong and they have no idea about what they saw.  Which is basically what you say to them when you let them know something didn't go so well just after they have complimented you.  Of course I know this and would never do this (I think...?), but when it was relayed to me in that way, it seemed like I was hearing for the first time.  There were about 3 years in my 20's that I followed the mantra, "my mistakes are my intentions."  And then I got smarter I guess and well, I am now desperately trying to find where I hid that mantra.

So you ask, what is all this leading up to?

Last winter I embarked on what I thought was the first of it's kind; I began planning with the composer and the carilloneur a concert and world premiere of a new piece of music for carillon and percussion ensemble.  And once again I surprise myself, and the concert went off without a hitch on September 12, 2010!  (You can find it on YouTube.)  The composer was present from Utah and the audience was huge, and the weather was perfect.  The concert was outdoors, so I was somehow able to pick the most gorgeous day of that particular week back in March.  A brass quintet performed with the carillon prior to the percussion ensemble, and then we came out and re-awoke the crowd (at least that's what I thought from my vantage point, which was right in the middle of 8 drummers!) for a great performance of Christopher Rouse's "Bonham".

So far, you might think that we had a stellar event, and yes, we did.  However, one (an Artist) might look at that event and be able to say it was too hot that day, the audience didn't get a since of the true balance because they were sitting under the trees off to the side, at times the carillon was not with the percussion ensemble, the wind was annoying and threatened our music several times, and outdoor concerts are a drag.

So basically, this was relayed to me quite often by many people, but all in bulk by a certain person that was involved with the concert that will go unnamed.  And, well yes, I knew all of this, I happen to be there, remember...a side note should be made that this person didn't bother to stay and watch our portion of the concert.  I refuse to fall into their trap.  I have done it plenty of times in the past, and maybe I have set the trap before too, but damn it I learn from my mistakes, of which are many, and this time and hopefully all other times I will not fall.

The concert was amazing!  The students did marvelously!  The weather was perfect!  The audience loved it and I had a blast!

Don't fall into the trap.  Remember to remember the good components.  Remember to be as naive as your audience, you will find a certain appealing peace in what you do and have done.

"Your mistakes can be your intentions."

Go forth, and enjoy what you create!

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