Thursday 5 April 2012

Playing the piano

Had a run through of Winterreise today. I know the pieces fairly well now, but I still freak out and yield to panic whenever I have to touch the instrument in front of people. There are some old demons to slay. It's less about the muscular effort to make my fingers run on the keyboard work than the strengthening of the my shaky self confidence when it comes to play the piano. Performing classical music has always been connected in my head to the sentiment to earn the privilege to belong to a very select elite. Giving up the path of becoming a concert pianist then (have I ever thought I would become one?) was a relief for me, but also felt like a fall from grace.

I had not played classical music on stage since the recital with Julia back in... 1997!!! However, classical music has always remained in my life with our weekly musical afternoons, my daily piano practices ever since I bought my piano and also highly enjoyable sessions with Ulysses. It's good to be back at it for a performance.

Winterreise was a perfect way to rekindle my friendship with ChingYao. We will never be as close as we used to be, but at least the energy is flowing again.
I had a few sessions with him to coach on his German pronunciation as well as musicality. Despite his beautifully honeyed voice, he's strongly lacking in understanding of the musical text. Nicole Fallien had warned him about his pitch when she gave him his lesson. He hasn't worked on it.
"Because I started music much later than the other students, I had a lot to catch up. And that has always terrified me. Something which seemed simple for the others demanded days of practice for me. It always freaked me out" he explained. "I have to repeat and repeat again until I have it in my voice"
I had suggested him to study music theory. I had offered to help him. But since that particular session with Ulysses more than a year ago, where he would stumble on the same mistakes for something quite simple, I believe that he had felt reluctant to walk that path again.
I try my best to help him. But I can't go dive deep in the music with him. That would demand daily sessions in order to go through all the details in the music, and I have the feeling he's avoiding that. So far, what matters is that the voice sounds good enough, and that we are in tune with the dancers. I guess that for the Taiwanese audience that will be more than enough.

Photos by Zhang XiaoXiong

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