On March 24, I'll be playing the Mozart Oboe Concerto with the Northwest Indiana Symphony. It's a piece I've performed many times, but it never gets easy. Working on it in my room was feeling more like a chore than a pleasure - all those scales! All that busywork!
Last week I went in for a lesson with a colleague, which was intensely inspiring, and exactly what I needed. It was a stand-out moment - I've known the Mozart for a long time, but I've been out of the habit of thinking of it as a big deal. I started at the beginning and immediately she stopped me and demanded MORE. More energy, more quality, more sparkle, more PLAYING. We spent two hours working through the entire piece and I was glowing with effort and joy the whole time. THIS is what working on a concerto is supposed to feel like.
The soloist's job is to be the hero. To bring the appropriate energy to the piece of music, to set the tone for the orchestra, to fill the hall with sound, emotion, and intensity, and to take the audience on a real journey.
It's a difficult thing to practice, in your own familiar practice room in your own home - or at least it's difficult for me. So that's been my project this week. I'm honing my interpretations, and working at managing the energy I need - I can't over expend it and run out by the end, but to use less than my potential would be un-heroic.
Specifically, this week I am doing a mental run through of one movement every time I go out for a run. I'm working to be mindful about my musical choices, without overthinking them - because in the moment I still reserve the right to make changes! I'm doing a physical run through of one movement each day, focusing on being BIGGER in my ideas, my dynamics, my intentions. I'm making sure that I am using my energy actively throughout each movement and never backing off and "phoning in" the notes.
I'm still a work in progress...