Repeat Performances

Posted on Monday, March 15, 2010

As any composer will tell you, a premiere is an honour, but a far greater one is to have a second or third performance. It's not just the fact that someone has liked your work enough to do it again, it's also your own mental state, which is completely different once the anxieties of the premiere are out of the way. It's a different experience altogether - at a premiere the slightest variation away from your mental image of the piece causes convulsions of panic - whether the difference is caused by the performer or by your own mistake - and in fact, working out whether the problem is yours or the performer's is one of the chief causes of stress. But on a repeat performance that stress is reduced by a hyperbolic amount. And as time goes on if you're lucky enough to have still further performances, it reduces pretty much to zero. Indeed, you often hear older composers talking or reacting to their own work as if they were pieces by some other, long-gone composer, which in a sense I suppose they are.

Well all this is by way of pointing out that two of my recent pieces have entered into the blissful phase of life whereupon the number of performances they have received can no longer be counted on one hand; indeed, Gumboots, my Clarinet Quintet, will soon have had more than the total number of digits of any kind a person has. Forthcoming performances include later this month in the beautiful town of Gent in Belgium by Eddy Vanoosthuyse, clarinet, soloists of the Brussels Philharmonic; by ACJW on tour in Europe, and a repeat performance by the St Lawrence Quartet with Todd Palmer at the Spoleto Festival. The other piece is my solo harp piece Caja de Musica, which, thanks to the love and nurturing offered it by the indefatigable Bridget Kibbey is now approaching its 10th performance since its premiere last year. This month she plays it over in California, and later in May in John Zorn's The Stone in NYC.

On a separate note, I attended the John Adams concert at the Barbican a few days, where, alongside the European premiere of City Noir and other delights, there was a wonderfully foot-stomping performance of the Stravinsky Concerto for piano and winds by pianist Jeremy Denk. Jeremy has the most fabulous, if slightly too infrequently updated blog - he doesn't post often, but when he does they are most splendid.

Update

The Sacramento Bee has a nice write up on Bridget and her forthcoming performances.



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