Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BEING AN ARTIST: Composing & Performing (1 of 2)

This week's topics deal with two things that make up a big part of my life as an artist. This is the first in a two part blog about my role in the cogs of classical music and how it is similar to many of my colleagues here in San Francisco and throughout the country.

Of all the things I do as a musician, I have probably spent the most time in my life preparing for and doing concert performances. They are the reason I love what I do. They serve to remind me of my role in the grand scheme of things. Performing on stage, in a club, at a coffee house, etc. is an other-worldy experience. You literally transform into another person. All of the time spent practicing and honing your skills on your instrument are realized and you become completely focused in a cycle of creation. On a practical level, it is a natural high to play and hear applause upon your conclusion. And as a student, concerts served as little goals to go after to better oneself. Once you were done with one, there was always another around the corner.

I think the most exciting aspect of performing for me is that I never know what will happen. Silence serves as a blank canvas and the music that I create will never sound exactly the same ever again. The colors, textures, and subject of each painting will also be different for everyone listening to the music. As a performer I get the wonderful honor of creating that soundworld for the audience and interpreting music out of silence.

While my performing may serve as the vehicle for expressing moods and feelings in real time, my role as a composer is one where I attempt to capture my soul in a bottle. The sounds swirling in my head are given a home and my deepest and darkest reflections are brought to life. It is the opportunity where my musical training is brought to bear and society's thoughts and directions get a place to call home.

Composing is liberating. You get the chance to create a work of art that will influence those around you. They may be asked to think. They may be expected to laugh or cry. The composer has the responsibility for seeing the world around them - real or imaginary - and giving others (performers and listeners) the opportunity to experience that world. I find composing the most difficult and natural at the same time. Given the confines of Western classical notation (which is where my training lies) capturing ones soul can be a challenge to realize on paper. Nevertheless, when the act is done, the whole episode inspires and uplifts me in a way that nothing else can.

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