In the past month I have been working on chamber music repertoire to prepare for my upcoming concert with Hausmann Quartet on November 5, 6, and 7 in San Diego. For me the piano is the queen of all instruments - a perfect chameleon as it can be completely on its own or work in beautiful harmony with other instruments. It can imitate the most thunderous sonority of an orchestra, yet has the ability to produce the most sensitive and intimate sound. Generally speaking, the majority of my concerts are as a soloist or with an orchestra. For me the occasional collaboration with a small group of musicians feels like an unexpected excursion to the nearby countryside or a rare treat.
How is chamber music different from performing solo?
You have probably heard of the South Korean boy band BTS. Although I can’t say I am a huge fan of BTS, I appreciate their beautiful choreography and a personality as a group and individuals. I am sure that any of the members of BTS is capable of being an excellent solo artist, yet there is something very special about the unity created by each individual. I find that it is similar with chamber music. There is a different level of vulnerability; one has to trust and listen to each other, then create something beautiful such in an organic way as if we are in a real-time discussion about a certain theme that is broadcast. It is a dance that works only when everyone in a group is fully present, works with the others, and relies on each other through keen listening. Since one can never know how exactly the others will play a certain line, there is always a sense of improvisational character in chamber music that is thrilling for me. I often even forget that there is an audiences in a concert when I play chamber music as my every ounce of attention goes on our musical conversation and nothing matters at that moment.
Solo performance is different. I communicate with the music and composers in the spirit, try to listen and respond to my sound where the most natural musical energy leads me somewhere, doing my best to go beyond the humane realm spiritually. In chamber music I stay connected to other human beings in the present time while I go beyond to connect with music spiritually. It is a triangular dimension that I strive to keep in balance in chamber music that makes the experience unique and fun.
The next time when you have a chance to go to a live performance of chamber music try to tune into their musical conversations and how the musicians respond to each other. Did you catch any of each player’s unique character in the group? How do they interact and create unity? Who is your favorite player? What is your favorite moment? Can you create a story with the music in your head?
I am excited for your listening treat for a live performance soon!