Updated: Jun 16
I am going to try and start writing blog posts as regularly as I can in an attempt to structure my thoughts and to document their evolution. I find it quite difficult to write most of the time as I often feel limited by a fear of being wrong or ignorant, or of lacking the sophistication and expressive nuance that I admire so much in others who have the courage to write. But I also suddenly feel a growing awareness that actually I can embrace my naivete at this point - that any time an idea occurs to me, it will never occur to me again in such raw purity, and so I hope to grow the bravery to capture thoughts as I have them. Having said that, I also need to recognise that looking back and refining my words is still a process that is of me; editing and allowing for change does not necessarily negate intuition. Perhaps because I am a performer, I am best wired to create and make intuitive expressive choices in real time - performers have to develop an unbelievable level of confidence and sincerity in their impulses, in the ability to make a gesture or an idea convincing exactly as it is being carried out. It is very different to engage with thoughts as fleeting living entities that deserve to be captured as themselves and as they are, and to engage with thoughts as the starting point for the formulation of a more robust and inferable idea. I hope to be able to find a middle ground between these two ways of ascribing aesthetic and/or intellectual value to my thought, because there is an abundance of meaning and beauty to be found in both approaches. This first post is definitely leaning towards the former…
I want to write because I’m becoming increasingly aware that in order for me to feel fully involved in what I do as a performer, I need to have a firm philosophical engagement with why I do it. Performing music is a strange and slippery thing, nothing is ever finished and perhaps nothing ever should be. Often the firmer idea I have about how a piece should go, the less in control I feel of it; a piece of classical music becomes an object which, in order for any performance to feel meaningful, I need to have a defined angle from which I can approach it: a set of solid interpretative decisions which make an interpretation identifiably mine and therefore of greater value within a pretty saturated field. But I often find that having a concrete pre-determined interpretation sucks the lifeblood out of the act of performing, which I want to feel impulsive, ephemeral, to become beautiful through every chance moment that leads up to and sustains a performance as a living process. I think that it’s this tension between an interpretation and the act of interpreting that is pulling me away from wanting to commit to the classical canon. It is not at all the case that I don’t find beauty in classical music, but that the weight of convention, and finding the near impossible balance between not breaking with it, but also pushing the limits just enough to manufacture a unique (and therefore marketable?) perspective, is becoming unbearable. It feels inauthentic to what I feel I have to offer as a performer, though I am yet to completely define that within myself. And perhaps one day I’ll pull myself out of this rut of idealistic angst and will find a way of approaching standard repertoire that feels right – but for now I need to grapple with my musical purpose through exploring as many realms of performance art as I can. What I want most is to be able make music that feels like a direct metaphor for human connection and empathy.
As I write this, I can feel myself wanting to elaborate on every nuance that crops up, but this first post is not the place to do that just yet! Hopefully as I delve further into the process of articulating myself, I will be able to write with sharper focus and greater specificity issues that interest me; I’m particularly interested in the relationship between individualism and community, and the various political implications of this within musical and cultural settings. I also really want to dive deeper into studying symbolism and metaphors, anything that allows us to relish multiple meanings, and what aesthetic objects and the process of creating can show us about who we are and how we live.