Pre-concert Rituals: Boris Giltburg

Professional musicians often spend much of their lives on the road performing in concert venues around the globe. Amid the hectic travel schedules, rehearsals, practice time and adjustments to a different time zone, culture and climate, regular routine is sacrificed. We asked two of our guest artists to share what pre-concert rituals help keep them grounded.

It would be so cool to have a formula that would guarantee you a good performance! No stress, no worries, just do a) b) c) and d) and you’re fresh and in top shape, every single time. (That might sound a little boring, but, oh, it would be such a hard thing to refuse). Unfortunately, despite dreaming of such a formula for years and thinking, multiple times, that I’ve stumbled on it, I haven’t really. The closest I came is finding that there is—perhaps!—a formula, one that would work for one specific day and one specific performance. But how to find it, without the help of hindsight or a personal coach?

An afternoon nap is good—unless you wake up with a heavy head. A relaxing walk to take your mind off the performance is good—unless you’re so excited that your brain seems to contain ten Energizer Bunnies who wouldn’t stay quiet. Even the bowl of pasta you always swear by («slow-burn energy!») may find itself sitting uneasily in your stomach next to the superfluous pannacotta, both not quite helping concentration. Or you may be in a country where no serious food is to be found at all between 2:30 PM (when you’re still rehearsing) and 7 PM (by which time you’re already warming up backstage, your heart so thumping with adrenaline that no thought of even a sandwich would dare to encroach). Even practicing—the most obvious thing to do—can sometimes reach a point at which it’s more beneficial to close the lid of the piano and go outside for some fresh air.

So, a concert day might be a combination of some (or all) of the above—but the moment of going onstage and playing for the audience is the highest point of the day, guaranteed, and with no formula needed.

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