Last Sunday I had the first concert in person since February 2020 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, CA. Initially it was scheduled as a live streaming concert with about 30 private in person guests, then it was announced to be open to the public about 2 weeks before the concert. I had no idea how many people would show up, especially in a city where I had never performed before, thinking that people might still be a bit timid about going to a public performance. At the same time, I thought that I might have forgotten what it felt like to be on stage for a live performance with people. After all, the very thing I have been doing all my life - performing arts - is the thing that I was not allowed to do for the past year and half.
Preparing for this concert was a journey itself. I know that this has been a typical process for the preparation for a concert, but it felt uncomfortable and unfamiliar all over again as if I had never performed in my life. I was very excited, yet wanted to walk away from the very thing as if it was the final moment at the bungee jumping dock. Especially a week before the concert I heard many chatty noises from my mind, noticing some negative voices and discouraging words. I fought hard though, writing a journal, working out lots, walking, mental practice, yoga, and lots of meditation, reassuring myself the joy and beauty of what I do.
About 30 minutes before the concert in the greenroom of the hall my manager popped her head into the door and smiled big. “Guess how many people are coming to the concert!” I said: "Well, honestly… I have no idea. Hopefully more than one.”
She said with a smile: “There will be more than 400 people in the hall!”
30 seconds before the concert a stage manager backstage gave me a gentle nod to walk on stage. As I was getting closer to the piano, I heard a loud applause and cheering from the audience. I felt like I was walking into a dreamland, which I was sure I had had at some point of my past dreams. The bright lighting in the theatre, cheering from the crowd, and everything about that moment felt unreal and dreamy, yet full of life and joy.
The concert went beautifully. I was alive in every moment, connecting with the music and the audience. I felt that people were there with me for the entire time, savouring every note. Many of them came up to me to share their gratitude afterwards with teary eyes, thanking me for the gift of the music.
The final and the most helpful thought I had in mind before I walked on stage was ‘Enjoy it, and let the music guide you. Be in the moment and live it as if this was your last concert.’
I am sure it won’t be my last concert. However, the very thought made me give it all I had, not leaving any regrets. The truth is that I will never know when my last concert will be. Every moment of life is another finite opportunity for me to savour the very thing I do. When I was able to shift my attention from endless thoughts to simply being in the very moment and paying attention to everything I was doing, I was able to slow life down and live at its full capacity. I certainly feel that I became a better person and pianist after the concert.
I hope you get to practice this way of living more often too. It surely does wonders for me.