Performing live, but in 2020
Last week, I had three unique, creatively fulfilling opportunities to perform — something I thought was impossible in 2020 with COVID-19.
(The word "gig" might sound trivializing, but is simply musicians' slang for an opportunity to perform.)
In March, quarantine began and the near-future closed before me — a future crammed with performances, from my senior recital and orchestra and wind ensemble concerts, to gigs in Pittsburgh and New York City. With each one cancelled and so much time on my hands, I found solace in piecing together this blog, where I could articulate my ideals about the very thing I had lost:
As a musician, I love the vulnerability of live performance... the moment when someone is brave enough to create something live with their body, imagination, and skills... and when other people are compassionate enough to receive that gift.
and in another post,
Performing music is a way for us to serve our communities by bringing beauty, ideas, and new voices into the air.
Over the past ten days, these three gigs have shaken me from a pandemic-induced stupor & invited me to put my ideals into practice. In the process, here are some questions I faced:
What kind of experience do I want to create for the people who will be present?
What can I control now that will help me to create such an experience?
In the moment of performance, what will I be able to control?
What can't I control?
How does this opportunity resonate with my values as a creative?
What can I offer that is unique to my creative practice?
Over the next few weeks, I'll share the process of creating each event. For now, here are some overarching answers I found to the questions above:
Through performing music, I want to create experiences of beauty and introspection.
I can control my thoughts, both as I practice and as I perform. I want to think thoughts that release me from anxiety and tension into feeling calm, confident about what I have to offer. Thoughts that empower me to be present to the music.
I can control how I breathe.
I can't control who will or will not be there. I can't control the events (local, national, global) around me. I can't control the weather.
In terms of my values as a creative:
Around the Fire is curious and adventurous in its programming, celebratory of marginalized voices and rooted in the power of storytelling.
Ears Engaged's November concert was programmed for the residents of a senior home in Pittsburgh, curated to celebrate their shared identities & experiences, including a wide variety of genres & styles. We introduced each piece in a way that expressed our connection to it and invited the audience to discover (or rediscover) their own connection to the music.
WaterWalks: Nine Mile Run was exactly the kind of multidisciplinary, educational, community-based event I hope to build my career around as a performer. I collaborated with the artist Ginger Brooks Takahashi, who held a tea ceremony for participants after the hike.
My unique contributions to these opportunities include my sound. My imagination of what is possible within that sound. My breath. My awareness of what it means to be myself in that space. At this point in my journey as a musician, storyteller, and human. Creating for the humans around me.