Performing in public (the Nigel Kennedy viewpoint)
I’ve just been reading an interview with Nigel Kennedy in my local newspaper - Nigel Kennedy the world-famous violinist. mentored by Yehudi Menuhin and Stefan Grappelli, and an avid supporter of the English soccer club Aston Villa.
He has some interesting points to make about performing in public: "Others [some classical performers] seem to perform as if there’s a glass wall at the front of the stage between them and the audience. My approach is exactly the opposite - we’re sharing some time together. That makes it a far less intimidating atmosphere and people can get into the music. It’s not a real conscious thing I’m doing although at some point there was a conscious attempt to get away from the classical image I thought was a fairly contrived one. I’ve seen classical people and I know what they’re like. They’re all doing normal sh1t, like everyone else, and then appear in front of the public in this weird, contrived image."
All this presupposes that the performer is 100% up there with it on the technique side and knows the music 100% inside out.
What Kennedy says about sharing time with the audience is just like playing in a pub session - the players are sharing their music not only with each other but with the rest of the people in the pub. The basic difference, as I see it, between the pub session and the stage performance is that the audience has usually paid to come into the venue, and those two 100%s then become significant.
As an aside, Vivaldi wrote about 600 works, a large proportion being for the violin, and only about 30% of this output has been performed or recorded in recent times. Nigel Kennedy is busy making inroads into the remaining 70% and is giving a "Vivaldi Experience" concert at the Bristol Colston Hall on Wednesday 10th March. Unfortunately I won’t be there - I have a dress rehearsal to attend elsewhere.