ideal music in ideal settings is just.....ideal

Sometimes, the settings in which I have to perform are not always the best. It could be that I don't like the music I'm playing or the person I'm playing with (yes, that happens and no, if you're reading this, it probably wasn't you). Or maybe it's already been a super long day, I didn't eat or sleep enough and someone wants to rehearse the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (for the record, I haven't played the Mendelssohn in over two years and I hope to never have to revisit it ever again). Whatever the case I'm used to it and I'll get through it, it's just part of the job. 

However, sometimes it just so happens that everything falls into place and you've got it all - good music, great players, you're well fed and rested AND you've had time to practice.  These opportunities are gold and oh-so-cherishable and I will never take for granted that the last month has been this and only this.

I've been rehearsing for a house concert happening this coming Saturday with my new piano quartet (tentatively dubbed the I.O. Piano Quartet - I.O. for the color international orange, the color of, you guessed it - the Golden Gate Bridge, how local of us!).  I also just got back about a week ago from The Iowa Great Lakes Music Festival where I hastily rehearsed and performed two piano trios with two really fantastic guys.  

One of the things I liked about being in Iowa was that I had the opportunity to just focus on the music at hand. I got up in the morning, ate something and we would start rehearsing. Then we'd have lunch, practice or rehearse some more, take a walk by the lake, eat more probably and then I'd go to bed looking forward to the next day full of the same. When you take away the stresses of a normal day, however small or large, it leaves you more creative space to focus on what really matters in your work. I don't have the type of job that I can leave at the office, it's always with me. So when I get to leave the rest of my life at the office and just focus on the work, well, exciting things happen.  Like.......let's add a cadenza to the final movement of the Beethoven! Let's Glenn Gould these dynamics and do the opposite of what's written the second time we play it in the trio!  Or let's play this part slower just because we've already heard it the same way eight times.  Oh the horror!  So we did and left things to chance and spontaneity and it was the most fun I've ever had performing Beethoven. And of course this had everything to do with Thomas and Zach's willingness and I love them all the more for it.  After experiencing this wonderful type of group dynamic I think I can't go back to rules and regulations. Why would I want to?  Just look how happy we were!

And while my piano quartet at the moment may not be as experimental it's just as rewarding.  The string players are fantastic and beautiful musicians that already bring so much to the music at hand that I feel like I just have to step in and we all lead the way together. That's the bonus of working with people more experienced than you are and I certainly don't mind being the baby of the group, it's a welcome change. The work never feels like "work" and I'm often disappointed when our rehearsals end. Although with this group, the end of a rehearsal means wine and food and lots of dissing conductors so I can't complain too much.

So here you find one happy pianist at the moment. More of the same please!