Repertoire and Its Discontents

We've had such wide-ranging conversations here. Part of our residency has been about discovering/identifying/articulating ourselves as a duo. We started with some really big questions, including 

-what are our values?

-what are we interested in?

-what do we have to say?

I sure don't promise answers here. But welcome to the ride with us! 

Exploration of these questions often finds its natural expression in repertoire choices. Repertoire that is immediately arresting is important, but is it enough? Can it stand the months of solitary practice and intense hours of rehearsal? What about the (wonderful) repertoire that takes a while to become acquainted with, and subsequently love? 

We played an outreach concert on Wednesday night, and had some lovely questions including "I notice how wide-ranging your selections were; how do you choose your repertoire, and what do you gravitate toward?" The gentleman told us that while he typically does not like Bartok, he really enjoyed what we played. Post-performance, he mentioned that he waits until he has heard a piece six times before he makes up his mind about it. Six times! Would that I had that patience and openness to discover something through repeated listening! 

We've spent part of this residency just exploring repertoire. We've found some potentially phenomenal stuff. Or rather, we've discovered some things that we are currently super excited about...but it doesn't always quite work out that way. Yesterday morning, for example, we decided to scrap an incredibly gorgeous piece, that both of us have put quite a bit of work into. In my heart of hearts, I just didn't love it in the same way that Michi loved it. Dear reader, I feel very guilty about this. As a 'professional musician,' I feel somewhat obligated to love things that I *know* are great pieces of music, and that I have a duty to learn them *especially* if they're difficult! 

But here's the thing. Do you ever try to read all the articles in the New Yorker? ...yeah...

There's just SO much glorious music! It's tough to narrow it down...and it also can also take a while to get to know a piece well enough to love it enough really play for real, or determine it's just not for you (or, in this case, us). We get to know pieces with our brains and ears and hands, and sometimes those three things aren't always in agreement. Even with just two of us, it can sometimes be difficult to align two sets of brains/ears/hands. There are just a lot of moving parts! Larger ensembles..I can't even imagine. I'm fortunate to be in a duo with a musician that has a strong sense of aesthetic and taste, plus a warm openness to possibility.

Back to the exploration life...