A House Concert with Q & A
In late October, 2019, I flew off to beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for a series of performances around the province. This epic national journey from Toronto – a solid 5.5 hours of flight time each way – represented my second visit to the “Left Coast”. With the first visit having been two years earlier almost to the day, my excitement to see the west coast had peaked.
The second-to-last recital of this concert tour was hosted by a lovely couple, Bing and Eric, who had created the wildly popular Music Friends house concert series only a couple of years prior. It had taken me a while longer than expected to arrive at the venue, which gave me a less-than-ideal amount of time to get settled in and warmed up. Some concert hosts and promoters are strictly adamant about musicians ceasing to play when the doors open for the public, though Bing and Eric were exceptionally relaxed about such an issue. In fact, they were more than happy to have me play while the audience came in from the cold.
A Musical Evening in Vancouver
With only a quarter of an hour before the recital was to begin, the capacity audience by that time had filled their seats and were paying ever more attention to the warm-up session. Though it was not originally intended to be the case, the intimacy of the event and lightness of atmosphere prompted Bing to open up an impromptu Question and Answer period before the recital. Normally reserved for after the performance, this Q & A gave an optimal opportunity for the audience and I to acquaintance ourselves before the evening’s main event.
Over the next period, I will re-ask and re-answer several questions from that night’s discussions, especially since they are questions that I have been asked in the past and may be of interest to others of similar curiosity. To avoid an exceptionally long blog piece, I have decided to separate each question into its own blog. One of the questions that was posed to me was presented in two parts: Do you ever feel like stopping? What drives you to continue doing what you do?
What Makes Me Musically Tick?
When these questions were first asked I must confess that I was slightly taken aback. Even though I have been asked these questions in the past – in some form or another – it was the first time I can ever been asked at the professional level. Classical musicians, and those associated with the industry, often lament and caution about the difficulties of “making it” as a professional – often related to the wide international popularity of the art, juxtaposed with the finite number of venues and orchestras to potentially collaborate with.
In this case, the audience member may have also been referencing my previous injuries which came up earlier in the conversation – battles with carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and pinched nerves in both arms – which forced a stop to my career for the greater part of three years. These injuries were sustained during my time studying at university at a time when the constant pressure to be the best, the propensity to play only the most difficult music imaginable en masse. This combination ultimately caused an eventual physical breakdown. The high-risk/high-reward study program created a force of incessant necessity to develop at an exceptional rate, lest the likelihood to receive favourable performance opportunities be even further scarce.
As a side note: it was a long and arduous comeback from these injuries, filled with no guarantees on recovery. The severity of this major setback was a situation which may have caused others at a similar crossroads to reevaluate continuing along this professional path. The path to recovery was not straight, though I am eternally thankful to have regained the form to put me back on stage.
Do you ever feel like stopping? What drives you to continue doing what you do?
To answer these questions, my immediate answer to the former was quick and simple: “No”. I can say with absolute conviction that there has never been a fibre of my being that has ever wanted to stop playing the piano. Music is an incredibly significant part of my life, not only as a means of providing a living and source of income, but also as an intrinsic and self-satisfying means of expression which allows me to immerse in some of the most prolific artistic output ever created.
The challenge of learning and performing this music is in and of itself a source of inspiration. The classical music catalogue is a resource of seemingly endless depth which only adds to the intrigue and excitement of my own personal growth. One day I may delve into this subject further in a future piece (especially if you – the reader – expresses interest in reading more through your comments below), though for the purposes of this blog I will try to remain as close to my response of that evening as possible.
My answer to the second question “What drives you to continue doing what you do?” is a much more straightforward question to respond to. As I mentioned earlier, with such a vast collection of repertoire from some of the greatest musical minds this world has ever seen, there is already an endless journey along a musical path to learn and consume as much of this incredible music as possible. In my case, there are a number of venues in which I hope to perform someday, as well as orchestras to collaborate with, recordings to make, repertoire to learn, countries and cities yet untraveled to share my music with, just to name a few of my own immediate personal goals. These goals are as endless and the challenges of achieving them are equally so. To continue along this artistic path is to continue my own personal understanding and maturity.
As the questions continued to pour in from the audience, and the depth of conversation continued to expand, it only added to the intrigue and excitement of that evening’s performance. I look forward to sharing with you yet another segment of the Q and A session very soon!