There’s a fine line between self-promotion and desperation, that usually hinges on the use of the word, “Please,” interestingly enough. Here I find myself with multiple projects in need of readings and collaboration and, in my present state, I find myself away from a home base that I had cultivated, but never used to a full advantage. I knew musicians of all stripes, singers with every wavelength of vibrato, directors, conductors, and venues that I could call and, with very little effort and money, secure rehearsal and/or performance space. But I didn’t take advantage of these things nearly enough.
I had a conversation with my wife the other evening. We were on the train – I was heading for my costume call and warm up for my third performance of Holländer, and she was going in to practice while I threw myself across the stage in my mushroom hat (which even my fellow chorus members are starting to make fun of – I’m trying to remember how to say “My wife made it” in German, so I can playfully throw it back at them, even though the Germans don’t really do humor) and tried not to scream in German. We were talking, as we do, about how things are going with our new life in Europe. We’re reaching the three-month mark, a point in time when, as she says, you realize hard and fast that this is not a temporary relocation, in the sense that her freelance gigs were – that you would not be wrapping things up and heading back to the home base, and just in time for Thanksgiving and who is coming and did you get the peanut oil to fry the bird yet and have the pecans arrived yet and do we have enough chairs?
As I write this, the dog is curled up on the floor at my wife’s feet. It’s a show day for her which means sloth – hanging out in PJ’s and saving her energy for the stage, especially as there’s a lot of hopping up, around and off of large set pieces, while firing off arial rockets and general vocal acrobatics. He’s sleeping (typical) and is snoring softly (also typical) until someone walks up the stairs just outside our door, whereupon a eye opens, the ears tilt up and a low rumble of his “you best move on, unless you have treats” growl beckons from his throat. He’s a killer. This scene is commonplace, but still new. We’re all together, all the time, for the first time in five or six years and that’s a rare blessing, I must remember, even if it’s only three months on, and even though it has become the norm. We gave up our home to have our home life. Homebase Europa.
We have a friend, who is rather well known and doing very well, career-wise. This person turned my wife on the the concept of having a personal “Board of Directors,” non-relative colleagues whose input you trust, who you also know will not bullshit you, or put up with your bullshit. To this Board one goes when plotting out professional maneuvers, to troubleshoot the financial, practical, potentially political, and artistic implications of your next move, and the moves that will follow. You know, how a Board of Directors is supposed to behave, but on an individual – but not personal – level. Questions include – how should I approach performance and reading opportunities of new instrumental music? Do my operas ‘work’ dramatically? How can I get them workshopped? How can I drive more traffic to my website? What types of pieces should I put on my ‘to do’ list?
I’m assembling my Board, and rotating my wife to an ex-officio position. She’s scary amazing at ideas, but I’ve learned (the hard way) that I relied heavily on her input as an amateur composer, to the point of it being an emotional thing. Which brings us back to the train on our way to the theatre. She has been observing my increased compositional activities, and is one of the 6 people who read my blog, so, she has been aware that I’ve been up to something. So she says, “What does that mean?”
It means don’t rush, do it right. Acting out of emotion, gunning for the quick result, is what an amateur does, and I’m not an amateur anymore.