My husband and I went to see the movie "Black Swan" earlier this evening. It tells the story of a ballerina named Nina who comes unhinged while trying to conquer the duel roles of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake. Outside of the entertainment value of the film (sex, drugs and insanity) is a very interesting premise. How can we stretch ourselves as artists to meet the demands of the repertoire we dream of performing? I may never have had full on hallucinations as a result of the stress of being a performing artist, but I could certainly relate to Nina's basic issues; competition among peers, the inner drive to be perfect, the attempt to expand beyond the limitations of my own personality. It's a lot to sort through.
For years, I was told my playing was "boxed in." It was pretty, technically acute but lacked any sense of risk and daring. Three years under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas helped considerably, but I still have to constantly push myself to get out of my box. I like the box, it's comfy and safe in there. Unfortunately, it can also be quite boring. Which is why I need to keep taking risks, be they musical, emotional or otherwise.
My latest risk? Opening the curtain. I've decided to do a series of videos showing my process as I learn Bill Douglas' Sonata for Oboe and Piano. People see us on stage and think our performances are these magical events that we conjure up with our endless talent. We can tell them we practice for hours, but that still doesn't seem to do the trick. I figured a highlights video might convey some of the effort behind those seemingly effortless performances. To make this project truly honest, I think I may have to reveal a bit more of my thought process than normal. I want to dig beyond the mechanics and reveal some of the emotional structure that has to be built. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to do that, but I think it will be interesting to see how it develops.