Silence is a sound

It's been a good while since I made my last entry. I've been in an intense, focused period of practising which culminated this past week when I premiered my new recital programme on the music festival Östergötlands Musikdagar. On friday I also played a french chamber music programme with Nils-Erik Sparf, Erik Wahlgren and Staffan Mårtensson. Here's two great reviews from two of my recitals in Linköping and Norrköping last week (in swedish): and For those of you who missed the concert I will be performing it more during this upcoming season, check out the calendar!

When I compose a programme for a solo recital, I try to think of an abstract dramaturgical pattern, where one piece creates a certain athmosphere which then transitions and is transformed by another piece. This way I want the programme to create a sort of life story that can be reflected on me. 

To perform a piano recital is quite the beast. I have to challenge so many levels of doubts on my own potential before finally being there on stage. Since you're all alone, it means that you're fully responsible for all the musical impulses. You're both the orchestra and the conductor. There is no time to turn pages, so you have to play everything by heart, which is always scary. What if I loose it? You're really exposed. On a bad day it feels like being naked on stage, making a complete fool out of yourself. For me, the time spent preparing a piano recital hugely exceeds the time I have to spend on any other form of concerts.

To my great relief, everything went really well. The preparation paid off. I felt that I could throw myself off the cliff completely, which rewarded me the feeling of flow. Leaving your body and becoming the music. This gave me complete artistic freedom to be extremly personal. And I could feel this invisible connection with the audience, where I was in complete control of sounds and silence.  Nothing beats this!

 (foto Peter Jigerström)

(foto Peter Jigerström)

I have been discussing a lot these past years with friends and colleagues about the need for renewal on the classical stage. Don't misunderstand me, the traditional way works and has it's loyal audience. But the options apart from the existing ones are too few, there needs to be diversity. What about the younger generation that yet hasn't been introduced to this magical world with its history of almost a thousand years? I have a lot of those friends and they all say they want to get involved, but feels that it's such an uphill struggle of knowing a lot before being able to enjoy it. And going to the bigger symphonic stages doesn't help, the good seats are quite costly for students, so they can only afford the seats with obstructed vision and inferior acoustic image. Not really a great way to get introduced.. 

I have a theory that it's all about being able to relate to your environment. Since a majority of the typical classical audience is upper average aged, many of the younger people feels that they can't really relate to their neighbour next to them. And neither can they relate to the performer who's sitting so far away, and often doesn't even open his/her mouth during the whole concert. They've never heard the music before and with no relatable introduction the music gets unrelatable as well. 

So is there any solution? Yes I believe there is. And the first step has to be made by us, the artists. We need to start talking, start including our audience. A concert exists of three equally as important pillars; The music, the performer and the audience. By talking I don't mean to start lecturing or giving a history lesson on what Beethoven had for breakfast in 1805, or about the architectural structure of Stravinsky's music. But about why you are playing the piece, what it means to you and why it is still highly relevant to perform still today. A friend of mine sent me a link to a very interesting article written by the Danish accordeon player Andreas Borregard. In the article he discusses the renewal of classical music compared with the very successful renewal of Danish film, and lists ten concrete motions on what we musicians can do to contribute. Of course this challenge is much more complex than just following ten motions. But we have to start somewhere at least. And in the end who has everything to profit from a change if not ourselves? 

People who say I look like Lang Lang

More than a year ago I wrote a blog-post for the Swedish Radio P2 about relating my performance as an artist to who I am as a person. Developing skills as a musician and stage persona oftens means spending hours of self-analysis, mapping out your strenghts and weaknesses. You really need to cleanse yourself and face the fact that the only thing standing in your way is you. How can I play this even more beautiful? How can I be able to play this difficult passage? Why the hell can't I play this difficult passage?! Why am I nervous? What if I get completely lost during the concert? What will they think of me if I play poorly?

Practising an instrument is truly self-terapeutic and in good times it is amazing how you can manipulate your own mind into a creative, constructive and positive thinking which brings you to levels you didn't think you had. But in bad times it can also be really self-destructive which makes you almost depressed. Relating your performance to who you are.

When I was writing that post back then I was kind of living in denial and thought I had it all figured out. Turns out I didn't, because I'm still as neurotic about my playing. I will probably never solve the puzzle how to not relate my playing to who I am, because who I am is also how I play. Instead I'm starting to question if you're actually supposed to figure it out at all? What if it always will be like this, and that the way to go is to accept yourself and the fact that there will always be ups and downs? Or I'm just thinking way too much again... Anyway, playing music and being an artist means the world to me, and that's probably also why I'm so emotionally attached to my performing at times. I do not wish that I someday wake up and stop caring about doing my utter most to express music as I would like it to be.

The past week I've had much fun rehearsing for a project together with my fellow musicians and friends Mikael Rudolfsson and Filip Draglund. On Wednesday we're heading to the BadiaMusica festival in northern Italy. The ensemble-form is completely new to me and even though I've played duets with both of them before, the trio gives a whole new spectra of colours, sounds and expressions which is really exiting. I've also enjoyed exploring music that is completely new to me. We will be playing a very varied program by known and less known composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, John Cage and Jacques Castérède, check it out in the calendar! In november we will be reuniting again on tour in northern Sweden. On the tour we will also be premiering a piece composed to us by the fantastic pianist Roland Pöntinen. The hype is on!


Finally this weeks post will be dedicated to the never ending questions/comments I keep getting from some people I hereby will be referring to as "People who say I look like Lang Lang". When I hear them nowadays I switch on the auto-answering-machine-mode. So to avoid having to do that I thought I might do a short FAQ so that I in the future instead can refer "ppl who say I look like LL" to this post. Saves us both time, win-win!

Q: Where are you from?
A: Stockholm!
Q: No, I mean, where are you really from? 
A: The end.

Q: Oh, you're a musician, what's your job?
A: The end.

Q: Do you make good/enough money in music?
A: The end.

Q: You look like Lang Lang! .. Oh don't be so sensitive and misunderstand me, it was meant as a compliment! 
A: I do believe I have enough self-awareness to say that I don't look like him at all. So in the end, the only resemblence which concluded your comment was that we're both chinese and happen play the piano? Like the 15 million other asian pianists on this planet? Brilliant. The end.

 Lang Lang

Lang Lang





The non-romanticized truth about the feeble shit going through my head.

Greetings, glad to see you checking out my newly updated website! Recently I've been putting a lot of thought about the whole idea of a website, and started to rethink the purpose of having it. From being a site that functioned more or less as an extended business card where I go nuts on bragging about myself and how good I am etc; To a site that functions more as a small window into my everyday life as a musician and artist. A site that tells the truth, the non-romanticized truth about all that feeble shit that goes through my everyday life. A site where I can post about the thoughts and work behind all the projects. Often what people see when they see a musician is the very tip of an iceberg, what people don't really fully understand is how many hundreds of hours that lie behind every performed minute on stage. I hope that this website can give you an insight about that and of what's up and what's down. 

Last week I just finished the very first tour of our newly formed piano trio LEK together with Swedish violinist Daniel Migdal and Norwegian cellist Frida Fredrikke Waaler Waervågen. The genesis of this project started when I was asked by the Swedish Radio to commision a chamber music piece,  so I discussed this with the guys in the ensemble, and the conclusion was that we've all been crazy interested in collaborating with a musician from another musical background. We thought about different possibilities and came up with the idea to work with the fenomal Swedish jazzsinger, voice artist and composer Sofia Jernberg, an artist whose music I have been enjoying listening to quite a lot the last few years. Gladly she accepted to write a piece for our trio, which she named LEK (hence the name of our trio). I must say it has truly been a interesting journey rehearsing this piece, being forced to improvise (which usually classical musicians tremble upon just hearing the word) and really working on communicating with the audience from another perspective. And to our great joy the piece was recieved with big entusiasm all through the tour as well as the genious Mozart trio and the magnificent Ravel trio that was also performed on the tour. (For all swedish-reading ppl here's the review)  

Anyway the tour ended yesterday, and I planned to go up early so I could get a good day of practising today. But I ended up sleeping till 11.00 and then got stuck on the couch in front of my laptop the whole day except going out the door for some takeaway pizza..... It's been raining aaaall day and I'm feeling blue. Postconcert coma i guess.