The Sunday after the concert, a bleak and rainy one. I am trying to leave the Beasts behind and starting to look forward to the Bach Christmas Oratorio (concert on December 6).
So how did it go? Well, I have two answers. As far as the choir is concerned, it went really well. Maybe the madrigals were a little more relaxed in the dress rehearsal, but they worked fine in the concert as well. The choral things went better than in any rehearsal – and the Bodin, the toughest nut to crack, a whole lot better than ever before. I also think the sound of the choir was more unified than in previous concerts, there was a lot of warmth in the Rudoi premiere and the Sandström sounded really solid throughout. The Janequin was precise and relaxed; the Ravel songs surprisingly ready, despite been given very little time in the rehearsals. The diction of the French was excellent.
The audience seemed to like the program and reacted exactly as I had hoped with laughter at the right places. The hall is sound-wise as live as a woolen sock, but it is very clear and I am sure every little detail could be heard. Some people thought it too dry, some liked the clarity. The choir seemed surprisingly unaffected by the dryness.
So all well? In a way, but the perfectionist in me has been having a field day or two. I made one major mistake, which affected about five seconds of the music. Now, on a cognitive level, I know that was peanuts, but cognitive processes and emotions do not always go hand in hand. In fact, at times they are hardly on talking terms.
Fortunately I have learnt to put these emotions in some sense of proportion and that these small depressions seem to be a part of leaving one program behind and preparing for the next. But they can be tough. I remember one St. Matthew Passion, which went ever so brilliantly as a whole, after which I spent a day lying on the couch, staring at the roof and hating myself for one bad entrance. When I heard a recording of the concert, I couldn’t even tell which entrance it was…
I suspect these mini-depressions are part of a bigger picture. Because big, challenging concerts demand so much mental energy, you can’t just waltz out of them. It seems that for me it is necessary to die a small death, to be introvert, a little sulky and overly critical, to be able to start building towards a new challenge. I imagine that if I had not made that mistake, I would have bashed myself to mental bruising over something else.
I suspect I am not the only conductor or musician who goes through cycles like these. But it certainly is not a subject that pops up in interviews or discussions. In fact, I can’t remember anyone describing these kinds of post-concert blues. It could be that it is a part of our image-building of today that all weaknesses and negative thoughts need to be hidden, or then these feelings just are so personal that no one wants to reveal them. And, naturally, there is the alternative that others just don’t have them (but I doubt it…).
Be that as it may, I have already turned a corner and feel pretty good about the concert (the picture below shows that nature in sync with my feelings). I have a feeling the concert will be an important building block in this year’s progress. It definitely stretched both the singers and the conductor and we will be the stronger for it. I suspect the music of the next concerts will, after the ordeals of the Bodin suite, feel a lot easier than it would have without. And I love the idea that I can now in the two remaining concerts of the fall season concentrate on expression, ensemble and sound.
Thanks for following the process via these blog posts. I hope they have been enlightening and given some food for thought. For me, they have been an important medium to clarify my thoughts and develop some of the ideas that arose during the process.