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?