When you are preparing for a performance there comes a point at which you need to change from preparing for perfection to preparing for performance. Until I make that change I don't feel that I'm even close to being Prepared.
I've been working on the Rouse Oboe Concerto for months now. Maybe a year. But working on it in the abstract way that you do when you have all the time in the world and you want to really do it right. Small passages, striving for perfection. Analysis. Looking at the score and the part and listening for tiny details in the orchestration. Contemplating the exact shapes I want to make in my slow movement, both big picture and small.
I love this abstract work, but there comes a point at which you have to bring your focus out a little and start to make the real compromises that live performance will require of you. Endurance becomes a factor. Real world nerves and the temperature on the stage. The actual reed you are actually going to play is almost certainly one of the reeds in your case right now.
I made that change very intentionally earlier this week - started doing full run-throughs instead of obsessing about detail after detail after detail. Started forgiving myself for small technical errors in the context of the big picture. Started focusing on the overall arc of the performance rather than on perfection in every detail. Started organizing the reed case.
And somehow, it didn't quite help. I still didn't feel comfortable or ready for my recitals, and they start THIS VERY SUNDAY. I couldn't figure out what I was missing.
And then I realized it. There's a lot more to a 21st century recital than the quality of the oboe playing. And I've finally gotten to the point where these extra-musical details are obvious to me, and second nature. I didn't feel comfortable and ready, because I hadn't done my other work!
I found myself with a free hour and some wifi, and I got around to making Facebook events. I sent blurbs to the newspaper's entertainment calendar. I sent a note to my email list, letting everyone know that the event was happening.
I bought a new dress. I prepared my program and bio information and sent it to the venues. I've begun the scripting process, in which I attempt to figure out what the heck I am talking about and how I intend to frame the performance.
And NOW I think I am about ready to start this craziness. I'm truly a 21st century musician, at last, and I can't wait to show that off in these four performances!
Please come on out and hear one of these events:
Do Not Fear the 21st Century Oboe Music!
Sunday, March 13, 4:00 pm EDT, Howard Performing Arts Center, Berrien Springs, MI
Tuesday, March 22, 7:30 pm CDT, Duesenberg Recital Hall, Valparaiso University
Friday, April 8, 7:00 pm CDT, First Presbyterian Church, Michigan City, IN - NEW RESCHEDULED DATE!
As Musicians for Michiana: Sunday, April 10, 4:00 pm EDT, Church of the Savior Christian Reformed Church, 1855 N. Hickory, South Bend, IN