In this previous blog, I compared the way I prepare for performances to a boxer's training camp. Well, this time I have something a little different: a short camp.
In late January I went to the doctor with pain in my side. Turns out I had three significant kidney stones - one on my left side and two in my right. This means I had to undergo two consecutive surgeries to correct them, which means it's been about two and a half months since I last played my horn.
I have a performance next Friday night.
Can I beg out? Sure. I even have my replacement lined up (the supremely talented Mark Dover), but I really want to do this one. Actually, I really only need to do one piece, but even that is a tall order to do in front of an audience when you've been off the horn for so long. I'm also determined to play this piece (more on that later).
So how am I going to get to speed in just over a week? Once again, I think of boxing: sometimes fighters will take on bouts with very short notice - someone gets injured, gets popped for drugs, any number of reasons. It only works if you were in good shape to start out with. You can't come from LESS than zero. So I'm going to lean on my go-to routine, the method. This means lots and lots of fundamentals - getting back to the roots. I will take the method and expand it over five days until I'm as close to 100% as I possibly can get. The first day I will barely play an hour. By day five, I should be ready to play a full three hour rehearsal. How? I will literally show you.
Tune in to Open G Records' YouTube channel, where I will be sweating and suffering live for both my and your benefit.
So now let me tell you why I'm motivated to torture myself to get into quick shape. This piece, Moonset No. 2 for soprano and clarinet, is by my dear friend David Glaser. The first time I performed it was also the first time I met David. I played his piece at East Carolina University with a soprano who just murdered the piece, and I don't mean in a good way. David had come down from New York to hear the performance, and I was so fucking angry and embarrassed. Here I was, in North Carolina, trying my hardest to be great and then giving a shitty performance in front of a New York guy. It was almost unbearable. It was also clearly not my fault - normally I take it for the team, but this was really egregious. After the performance, I apologized to David and I said, "listen, man. Write something for me and I'll make sure it gets done right". Well, he took me seriously, and a couple of years later I premiered his clarinet concerto, the first concerto anyone ever wrote for me. This will be my first opportunity to play the David's Moonset since that fateful Carolina day, and that's why I'm so determined to be able to do it. I do love a challenge - it's a bit like "Fuck me? Hey, fuck YOU!"