July 23, 2012
Finally we did it. I, did it. Our concert on July 4th had come to an end.
I had not played a whole concert like this for the longest time as I could remember (my memory is getting bad and I have been organizing my studio’s student concerts instead these years). I had been focusing on my teaching and research for the recent years that I had not had the time to do much practice, let alone concerts (I always have some performance here and there, but I did try to put it aside for more time on teaching). When Born asked me to play with him in this concert, I said yes without any hesitation. It was a good opportunity for me to go back to my playing again.
Having to organize and perform in a concert in such a short time of preparation was not easy. First of all, there was no choice in the venue. Originally we discarded the idea of having the concert as there was no hall available at all within the limited time frame. Eventually, one was freed up so we could take it. Unfortunately, it was not the most ideal venue with the most desirable acoustics.
We hurried to get in sponsorships and guest players on top of promoting the concert, designing and printing posters and tickets. We could not sell tickets through proper box office ticketing due to the late confirmation on the availability of the venue; it proved difficult for us to distribute tickets and for the audience to purchase/get the tickets, thereby making the concert organization even more vexing. Everything was to be rushed in in the very last second (not minute).
There was also not enough time for us, for me, to get prepared for the concert. I had (un)fortunately way too many engagements in terms of teaching and other works. I was not in the best shape of health, however much I tried my very best to gain more rest. I struggled to put in as much practice time as I possibly could, albeit it was very little (it is never enough of practice time for a musician).
I even booked the hall just to practice on my own to try out the piano, at the same time get in touch with the feeling of performing on stage. The touch of the piano was not promising, leading to the minimum level of sound/tone control and the maximum level of temper management a pianist could have on the instrument. I did not know which was more difficult in the end.
Just when I thought I had the best rehearsal session yet (on my own at the hall), I had the worst dress rehearsal two days before the concert. The volume of the piano sound was diagnosed to be too loud in the trio that the lid of the piano was to be closed- not half open or even left open with a 1.5-inch-thick book. I was perplexed. What should a pianist do in that situation? To listen to what the other musicians had to judge about the acoustics, sacrifice for the trio and disregard the importance of the pianist’s role in it? Or insist on having the lid at least half open and maintain the dignity of what a pianist should have at the minimum?
I chose the former. Yet, I felt very stressed out and that all my effort put into my practice and the concert was gone. I was not needed.
I asked for advice. 船到橋頭自然直。Vraiment? …
On the day of concert, I woke up late on purpose, and practiced for a couple hours. I went for a late lunch, then got back to get ready and get dressed. I felt quite calm, or at least I tried to stay calm in general. I got fully dressed, grabbed my bag and hurriedly fetched a cab to the concert venue. Naturally by Murphy’s law, I got stuck in a heavy traffic jam. There was nothing I could do but sat inside the cab, hoping to get there as soon as I possibly could. I arrived at the hall at almost 7.30pm, half hour before the concert started, rehearsed for the only one time (within 10 minutes) with our marvelous cellist who had been waiting for me patiently for 30 minutes. And I still had to go back and forth the hall to take care of the tickets for some audience…
8pm: it was concert time. I walked out confidently to the stage, enjoying the spotlights on me, seeing the audience all sitting down expecting the performance to happen. It was the greatest feeling.
I believe I did the best I could at that whole time, at that hall, with that acoustic, and that piano. There was nothing else and more I could do. I just focused on my playing, c’est tout.
For those who were there in the concert knew very well what had happened. Although I was a bit frustrated and did wonder what I should do for a split second, I composed myself well and continued to finish the concert. I knew the music, the performance was the most important at that moment; I, was not. I played the last piece with a satisfying smile on my face, listening to the sound – albeit soft – filling the hall, filling my heart, and hopefully, filling the ears of the audience.
I am grateful for all of those who came to support me, especially those who are dear to me, my parents, friends, students and old classmates. I appreciate your presence in my performance.
Thank you Mr Jebsen and Dr Wong for your sponsorship. Thank you for your support to me.
Thank you Richard for your support and marvelous playing. Your performance was very much enjoyed and appreciated as always.
Thank you Stephanie for being the young star in our concert. Everyone was charmed by your performance and naïvety. Thank you Martin and Queeny for your support to Stephanie.
Thank you Natalie for wonderful ensemble playing. Our moment on stage was beautiful.
Thank you Born for playing this concert with me. I could not have done it without you.
And, thank YOU, for your support. Thank you.
P.S. I will have more frequent performances coming up, please stay tuned.