Pain and Joy - the artist’s choices
The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off...
They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.
US novelist in China (1892 - 1973)
Today I am visiting my videographer, Larry Kryski and reviewing concert videos from recent performances, and the one that is thrilling me is the Vivaldi Christmas Concert that we did on December 11, 2011.
We bassoonists are so lucky to have these concerti and I am so lucky to be in a city that has students willing to take on the extra challenge of adding a not-for-credit huge event to their schedules. And my dear stage partner, Guy Few, who has been part of this event from the beginning... supplying the orchestra part in the first season and this year playing the double concerto for oboe and bassoon with me.
I watch the videos and am so impressed with the grace and power of the students, some of them already showing their professional potential.
And I look at the videos of myself, see that I am still completely committed to the goal of becoming the best bassoonist I can be, eager to play the music, completely engaged with trying to conquer the different dragons in every concerto... I am never happier than when doing all of this in public, on stage with other eager musicians. It is just the way I am.
Yet, as a performing musician has committed to a career filled with doubt and worry.... will I forget the notes? will my reed raunch out? will a key fall off? will enough concerts come in to pay the bills? examples of the usual endless anxieties of musicians... but I would never trade this for another career.
I wonder how much to tell my students about the choices that will be forced upon them... how to leave a crying baby in order to get to an orchestra rehearsal, or unable to look after elderly parents because you are on a tour that has taken two years to set up. And the idea of weekends, vacations or even a day off is almost absurd in our world. Because if you aren’t performing, then you need to be preparing to perform, i.e. practising, studying, researching, going to concerts, listening to music, imagining the next steps for yourself and your students.
Yet my own question is answered over and over when they keep stepping up to the stage to try something that is more difficult than they ever imagined. They want to learn by doing. And they want to be reassured that it will work out ok. The only reassurance lies in the fact that I am still alive and kicking. Or more accurately, sitting in my videographer's basement studio, looking at the quote from Pearl S. Buck that is sitting on one of his desks.