The day that my work is premiered is usually an angst-filled affair. While the worries about the performance itself (did the performers rehearse enough? will they make it through the most difficult section? will the audience be bored?) are often at the top of my anxiety list, the logistical and inter-personal concerns are rarely far behind. I always find myself worried about whether or not the performers will make it to the venue on time; whether the performers enjoy playing the piece; whether the performers will remember their music; or whether the performers will find me and rehearsing my music worth the long hours and energy spent.
It’s not often that all these worries and concerns melt away all at once. But, this past Friday and Saturday (May 21/22), I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the Anubis Quartet perform my work Pundits for Saxophone Quartet. Friday, May 21, started like any other day when my music will be premiered. All of the worries and concerns I listed above–including a few others!–were on my mind all day long. I arrived at the venue early and met with Anubis–Ryan Muncy, Sean Patayanikorn, Allison Balcetis, and David Wegehaupt. They’re young and energetic, and full of passion for their craft. These were all good signs, of course, but I’ve worked with other players with the same characteristics only to be sorely disappointed once the performance began.
But, my experience with Anubis was exactly the opposite. Once they began to play, I found myself forgetting about all those worries. Anubis played brilliantly. But, more importantly, I found myself becoming an audience member–as opposed to the uptight composer who really can’t shake his critical capacities to listen. Usually, I don’t enjoy listening to a performance of my work until I’m listening to the recording of the concert a few days later. Even then, it’s really hard to turn off that critical/evaluating part of myself. But, this time, I found myself simply enjoying the playing. Anubis is so gifted, so filled with teamwork and care for each other, that you can’t help but be caught up in just watching them perform. The energy emanating from the stage is, well… I can only use the cliche because nothing else fits… is palpable. These four players are each amazingly talented in their own rights. They’d each have the excuse of their talent to be a bit over-bearing and up-staging in their performances. But, they’re not. The care that they give to showcase each other is evident at every turn.
By the time Anubis performed my work for the second time on Saturday night (May 22), I was the very model of calm and nonchalance. There was nothing to worry about. They had it. And they had it down pat.
I am, obviously, lavishing Anubis with superlatives and accolades. Please don’t think this is borne out of my newly-minted friendship with the quartet or out of some hope to work with them again. Anubis is one of the finest ensembles I’ve ever worked with. It was a pleasure to have them commit their energy to my music. Anubis Quartet’s future is a bright one, I think. Thanks again Ryan, Sean, Allison, and David.