Sunday, September 21, 2014

Playing at a Party

Last night I attended a magnificent 70th birthday celebration of a dear friend, a large party attended not only by his family, but by many of his scientist colleagues--people I don't know, as well as by many mutual friends and my family.

After some extraordinary conversations with some of the guests I was to play a piece on the piano.  I had found what I thought would be the perfect selection: The Strenuous Life by Scott Joplin.  As I played I thought about the need for surprise, for constant variation, for defying expectations, and ended up producing a puzzling, perhaps even haunting, reading rather than a smash and grab type of performance--I'm no good at those, anyway.

It was clearly a complicated thing to play under those circumstances.  I know that some people heard it. Maybe others will hear it in retrospect, that often happens when I play for strangers.