June is here, and while it may not bring the sunshine we were all hoping for, it does at least for me signal a brief lull in activity after a month of May that was jam-packed with exploration - from narrating Walton's Façade and the Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals to surmounting the very different challenges presented by Bartók's 8 Hungarian Folksongs and Berio's Sequenza III.
One of the highlights of the last month has been having the opportunity to work intensively with instrumentalists - to embrace my role as a chamber musician, rather than a soloist. This began in my work on Mahler's 4th Symphony, as I tried my hardest to imitate the opening clarinet figures in 'Wir geniessen die himmlischen Freuden'. Working regularly with pianists, it is easy to forget to listen out for the instrumentalism in a line - something which our accompanists train so tirelessly to achieve! So it was good to re-tune my ears to this effect. The Walton was another work that encouraged me to look beyond my own music stand - although Sitwell's poems are hilarious the humour in the ensemble is not to be overlooked!
Towards the end of the month, I unexpectedly ended up working on Three Dots by Toby Huelin, a composition for two sopranos and two soprano saxophones which we premiered at Wigmore Hall last week. This piece presented somewhat different challenges - asking the performer both to listen and not listen simultaneously. I have enjoyed throwing myself into such a variety of musical environments and feel that it has made me more aware of the spaces in which I perform - not least when performing King Harald's Saga, where I have nothing to play off but the people sitting in front of me.
From this very intense period of learning and performing, I am hoping to now enjoy a couple of weeks absorbing this information and working out how to put it to best use in my end-of-year recital in three weeks. Although I thrive off the mania of running from one rehearsal to the next, it is essential that we take time to reflect - this is when the real growth can occur.
I am hoping to keep a vague track of these quieter weeks of recital preparation here on my blog - so do check in and see how I'm getting on. Until then, M.