Listen twice. / by petergregson

Last night, I enjoyed my second visit to Nico's opera, Two Boys, at ENO. I was lucky enough to be at the premiere last Friday, and was really amazed at not just how much of the music I remembered, but how much bizarre detail too, especially in the orchestration and little bits of lighting. I don't know how best to address this, as the New Factor is unashamedly exciting (the anticipation ahead of opening night was terrific), but last night I felt completely immersed... perhaps it was the performers being deeper in character, giving a fuller performance, but I don't think that was it alone. I'm a huge believer in getting to the second performance ASAP; as a performer of almost exclusively new music, it's very hard to illicit an equal reaction from my audience to, say, a piece of Brahms or something, because at the end of the show they're still assembling their thoughts. Hell, I'm still assembling my thoughts after the premiere, and I've been living with the piece for a while longer than the audience! Next week I'm back in the studio with Gabriel to re-mix his Cello Suite - it's coming up to Performance #3 (this time at Latitude), and inevitably minds have changed about this speed and that articulation. I s'pose the point is If We On Stage are changing our minds with every performance, then of course it's only right that the audience is changing its mind, too. We're properly recording it in August, too, so hopefully that'll start making sense. I don't think there are any shortcuts with this. I've tried "contextualising" new works with playlists of other works or explaining the process behind it, but actually, that's often so subjective as to be basically useless. I don't think the answer is in more context, it's in more experience. It may sound obvious, but I don't know how we are approaching it. Perhaps it's in recording live performances and releasing them there and then, or maybe it's in letting the purchased ticket be a pass for another performance of that work... I don't know, but I do know that, from personal audience and performer experience,  each subsequent performance makes more and more sense. It really is worth the extra trip, and trust me, when something seemingly impenetrable starts to make sense, it's a thrill that gets addictive.