Last night, I joined Marty Bishop, a trumpet DMA candidate at the University of North Texas, for a recital at the Valley View High School Fine Arts Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The program featured works by Henry Purcell, Joseph Haydn, Georges Enesco, Stanley Friedman, Gabriel Faure, and Jean-Baptiste Arban. The recital was a celebration of accomplishment and an opportunity to play for supportive friends and family who have not heard us play in several years. All in all, last night's performance was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable that I have recently played.
It was refreshing to work with a gifted musician who is confident in his abilities and does not need to come across as an ego maniac. Other performance experiences this year have not been as pleasant because of overly exalted pride on the part of other participants. It was refreshing to work with Marty, a musician who not only knows his strengths and weaknesses, but also recognizes that the ensemble playing is much better when kindness and laughter dominate the rehearsal and performance process.
Since this was not a recital that was high pressure, the approach to the program was much more relaxed. Obviously both Marty and I wanted to play our best; however, we were both realistic in our expectations as well. Because we were fitting the rehearsal and performance into our busy holiday plans, we rehearsed on Monday afternoon and presented the recital on the following evening. That meant that there were unresolved ensemble issues and some moments of uncertainty, but we both were confident enough as individuals that we pulled the performance off with aplomb.
As an ensemble, the highlight of the evening was the Haydn Concerto in Eb Major. I have always enjoyed this piece and look forward to the opportunity to play the work with a gifted musician. It was fun and effortless -- a high compliment when speaking of this early classical work.
Personally, the recital also marked a turning point for me personally. As a collaborative pianist, I rarely perform solo works. In addition to generally not enjoying solo playing as much as chamber work, I often shy away from programming a solo work on a chamber program as I feel it is difficult to change mindsets mid-stream. Last night, however, I played Faure's first nocturne in Eb minor as a solo. Not only was the playing good, it was quite enjoyable. Since I was already using scores in the collaborative works, I gave myself permission to present a solo composition with the printed music. I felt comfortable and was able to think about the music itself rather than fretting over when the inevitable memory slip would occur and if I would be able to recover. That is such a freeing experience! I won't say that every program will now contain a piano solo, but I won't be diametrically opposed to it now.