As previously mentioned, the Early Music singers had their exams here a few weeks ago, yours truly included. After such a turbulent year, my end of year recital was always going to feel different from what I had come to expect from performing. There are many perspectives I could muse upon, including the discrepancy between how a performer and the audience experience the same performance.
But there’s one thing that keeps coming up and every time I think of it, it irks me. It’s not even the usual over-analysis of my own performance and disappointment from that note that was out of tune, or that dynamic effect that didn’t quite work. Rather, it’s one of the comments from the examination committee.
It seems to be expected that the formation of one’s attitudes and outlook should derive from grand and dramatic life events. Maybe I’m an overly cautious being, but in general I believe my strongest beliefs have been formed slowly, from long periods of observation, experience and reflection. I’ve had the average share of teenage angst, intense and dramatic friendships, poorly founded and poorly executed flings, and probably above the average share of travelling solo and exposure to great art. And while all of these things have of course contributed to the person I am, I can safely say that they have offered no extraordinary flashes of insight, no moments of epiphany. If I go to bed and wake up feeling like a radically different person than the day before, I probably have a hangover.