Chopin was the ‘man of the hour’ at Friday evening’s Salon Concert at The Music Studio. I performed short works (a few Preludes, a Mazurka, a couple of Waltzes and three Nocturnes) for an audience of about forty. My student baked pastries and we had plenty of coffee. Here’s what I learned:
- When you’re doing everything, the publicity, greeting the guests, taking the ticket money, arranging for seating, setting up the coffee, etc etc, don’t try to perform by memory. For me playing by memory requires me to go into what Jade Simmons would call a “performance cocoon.” With all that had to be done before the performance, right up to the time I sat down at the piano, I didn’t have the focus to perform from memory. Lucky for me I only felt a tiny bit guilty because I had just read this article by Susan Tomes.
- The audience likes trivia. In between each piece I spoke, briefly describing the French Salons of the early 1800s, Chopin’s 200th birthday, and the launch of the A major Prelude, purposely trying not to be lecturing. It worked.
- They also like the intimacy of the Salon. Up close and personal. And right in their own backyard, for most of them.
- Good food is important. Three large plates of cream puffs, eclairs and lemon tarts, gone by the end of the evening. Coffee was available before, during and after the performance. Lots of visiting and chatting up new friends.
- The nicest compliment is when someone said “I haven’t performed in years, but I think I’d like to do this myself.”