This weekend I had the distinct pleasure to perform with a good friend of mine, Joe Fortin. Joe, the organist, music director, and choir director of Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Petoskey Michigan, also enlisted the help of soprano Amy Cross, and violinists Beth Weston and Carolyn McConaha. As part of the Great Lakes Chamber Sunday Series, the recital included a variety of pieces showcasing the organ such as Mozart’s church sonatas for two violins, cello, and organ, Massenet’s Elegie, and the Pie Jesu of Durufle’s Requiem. Joe and I also programed the Frescobaldi-Cassado Toccata and the Bloch Jewish Prayer. We had a wonderful audience (the church was packed, standing room only) and the recital was a great success.
In addition to all of the rehearsing, I spent time with Kathy and Joe Audia and two of their kids. The Audia family was very generous and provided my accommodations this weekend. Both Kathy and Joe are excellent cooks so I ate very well. In addition to gaining five pounds in three days I also made some furry friends (Louie and Clark, Labradors ages 9 and 1). The word “cute” doesn’t even begin to capture the appeal of these dogs. Let’s just say that I didn’t sleep alone…
One of the most difficult parts of being a musician is performing under pressure. Actually, let me rephrase that, it is performing under pressure consistently and at a high level while dealing with all of life’s logistics. After driving Friday, rehearsing Saturday, playing two church services Sunday, the recital, and then driving back yesterday, I was beat. It was the good kind of tired, the kind that you feel when you finish shoveling the driveway, but tired nonetheless. How do my cello instructors do this all the time? How did Mr. Starker play a hundred of concerts a year? How does Zuill Bailey or Matt Haimovitz do this day in and day out? Super-human strength? Scotch?
I am a fan of the Socratic idiom “Know Thyself” but this weekend I learned there is something more important than knowing and that is “trusting”. On Sunday morning, I played the Toccata and Jewish Prayer for both the 8:30 and 10:00 services so by the time we got to the recital that afternoon I had already performed them both twice. But before the first service, I asked Joe if we could run through them. He said something to the effect of “no, you’ll be just fine, we’ve been rehearsing for the last two days, just trust yourself.” And at that moment the light bulb went on in my mind. I’ve always thought of trust as a sort of water-tight, 100% guarantee. But I realized that trust is in fact a matter of “faith”, which in turn, translates to a bit of bravery because there is not guarantee that everything will be perfect. Additionally, the only person who cares if it is perfect is you. The audience is there to hear music, to be entertained, to admire what a performer does. Only you will ever really know your errors. So it is a sort of fault of my ego to think that it has to be perfect. That’s not why I’m there. So, trust thyself. Actually, trust others too. This requires a bit of guts and even some vulnerability but in the end, it is a worthy investment.
In other news, WMU’s New Music Ensemble Birds on a Wire also has a recording session coming up right before spring break. More updates coming soon.