Thursday, January 17, 2013

Looking for a Hero

Sometimes I forget that I am not Superman. It's easy to think I've got plenty of time to learn a demanding program when it's several months out. If you're like me, the repertoire can be so enticing that I commit without really considering everything else that will be on my plate at the time. Scheduling for the collaborative pianist is so important (and a topic for a later post). When you find yourself overloaded and the recital date is nearing, what's the appropriate thing to do?

I found myself asking this very question last week. Union University is celebrating Benjamin Britten's centennial next month. The weekend celebration includes performances of Noye's Fludde, a faculty recital featuring his chamber works, as well as masterclasses and a presentation of the composer's sacred works. I'm scheduled to play a main role in all of it....and I'm looking forward to it. As the date draws closer, I realized last week that there is one piece that is simply not where it should be at the moment. Given my rehearsal schedule and teaching load, I don't have confidence that I can be ready to give a solid performance by the festival. That's a stressful realization....and something that I had to do something about.

After considerable time at the piano identifying the issues and calmly and rationally thinking about them, I came to the conclusion that NOW was the time to speak with the program's director. The festival is still several weeks away and will provide another pianist (with less to learn) plenty of time to prepare the piece. In my email, I outlined my concerns regarding the piece technically as well as the rehearsal logistics. I pressed send and waited for the response....and kept practicing!

I have to admit that I was nervous sending the email. I am proud to be part of the team putting together the festival and want to do the best work I can. I didn't want it to appear that I was lazy or simply had waited too long to begin working on the piece. Still I knew that I had to give an honest evaluation of where things stood at the moment.

To my great relief, the response was very positive. Another pianist hasn't yet been secured, but we are looking. In the meantime, I continue rehearsing with a bit more calmness since I know that there are going to be no great surprises when our guest artist arrives in a month. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will be relieved of that piece in the next few days. Then I'll be able to concentrate on all of the OTHER music I have to learn!