Sunday, December 6, 2009


“How the hell can I top this,” said Orson Welles in the movie “Me and Orson Welles” as the audience was cheering after a spectacular performance of Shakespeare’ s Julius Caesar. I sensed a trace of the post-performance-blues in his remark, and felt in good company. 

The recital last Tuesday went very well. People came to listen and stayed, even though the room was cold and competition was tough, with the President speaking on TV at 8.  
I felt connected to the music and to the audience while I was playing. Lots of enthusiastic feedback afterwards. Mary Mann’s article on Maplewood Patch, with photographs and a video, gave me unexpected publicity.

The next day brought the familiar sensation that it’s all over. You’ve been on the top of the mountain, and now you have to go back down. 

My first practice session after the concert consisted of note reading, figuring out fingerings, hand divisions, memorizing. It was disillusioning compared to the effortlessness I had achieved with the concert program at last. There was a moment before the recital last week when I was longing to play something different. Now, the excitement had its limits. 

The day after I performed Beethoven’s Sonata op.111 for the first time, I had felt as if I had been run over by a truck. I didn’t even have the energy to practice. I went for a walk and stopped by at the drug store, where I found “Pillow Pets” for sale. I purchased a pink elephant, called it “op.111” to commemorate the occasion, put him on the sofa and called it a day.

Cappuccina and "op.111"

This time, not only did I have the energy to practice, I had the energy to tackle the laundry. I call that progress. Nevertheless, the encounter with the prosaic reality of the laundromat was depressing. 

In need of a reward, I took myself to the movies. I ended up in “Me and Orson Welles”, a portrait of the young Orson Welles and the world of the theater in New York of the 1930-s. I enjoyed the movie. What really turned the day around, though, was the surprise encore. While the audience was still applauding, three people got up and went to the front. Christian McKay, the actor who plays Orson Welles in the movie, was in the theater and gave a live interview. 

It’s comforting to know that even very ordinary days hold the potential of pleasant surprises.

Christian McKay at the Movie Theater at Lincoln Center

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