Pre-Concert Rituals: Brant Bayless

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 principal musicians who have prominent solo roles to share what pre-concert rituals help keep them grounded.

Spoiler alert: I don’t have a pre-concert routine. I mostly have pre-concert chaos, depending on the daily specifics of family life and the whereabouts of my wife, whose time, really, I share with the members of her Fry Street String Quartet. Some evenings I’ll be driving in from our home in Logan, fighting traffic and weather. Some other evenings I’ll be cooking up a storm for our voracious five-year-old at our downtown pied-à-terre before letting in the sitter and dashing off to Abravanel (hoping the scent of sautéing garlic blows away on the short walk).

It’s when I arrive at Abravanel Hall that the only reliably routine rituals begin. The viola case goes to its place on my locker. Phone placed next to it. Then to the dressing room. Clean shirt, check. Favorite cuff links (a wedding gift from my wife), check. Tailcoat (fretting over the shiny patch where my viola rests), check. Shiny shoes, check. Pants? Phew, check. Then back to the viola case for a quick swipe of rosin, and down to the stage to calmly go over the tricky bits in tonight’s program.

I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

Want to know more about the viola’s role in the orchestra? Watch Brant explain it in this video:

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Pre-Concert Rituals: Rainer Eudeikis

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 principal musicians who have prominent solo roles to share what pre-concert rituals help keep them grounded.

The majority of my performances are as a member of the Utah Symphony, and as a result preparation for those concerts is mixed in with other elements of my daily life. On an average performance day, I sleep in as late as possible (depending on whether or not I have a morning rehearsal, or how early the dogs wake us up…), and spend the remainder of the day practicing, teaching/coaching, walking the dogs, and maybe even allowing time for some video games before getting ready to leave for the concert. 

 

This weekend’s concerts, however, are something entirely different as I’ll be sitting in front of the orchestra as a soloist…On days when I have a solo performance, I try to thin out my schedule so I can really take my time to warm up slowly and find a good place mentally during my practice. It’s easy to over-play on the day of a concert, being convinced that just a few more attempts at a difficult passage will make all the difference in performance, but I try to take it easy and trust all the work and preparation that came in the months before. 

 

Thanks to pre-concert jitters, I typically lose my appetite and I’ll barely eat all day, but I’m usually ready to feast by the end of the concert! 

 

Want to know more about what a cello does in an orchestra? Listen to Rainer’s explanation in this video:

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Pre-concert Rituals: Alexandra Dariescu

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.

My ritual starts in the morning with a positive attitude. You never know what can go wrong on the day of a concert (flights canceled, trains running late, piano missing…) so an optimistic outlook is incredibly helpful. I like to practice slowly in the morning, on the score, looking at every detail and refreshing the memory. If there’s a rehearsal with an orchestra, I usually save energy for the evening performance. Lunch consists of fish, rice and lots of veggies. A nap is always welcome but if I can’t fall asleep, I lie down and breathe 3 in 7 out, a ritual I’ve had for years. I also visualize the hall, coming in and feeling free.

Freedom, inspiration and being in the moment are my essentials for a great performance. As musicians, we always practice for tomorrow’s concert, think what we’ll play in two year’s time. But when the spotlight is on, ‘now’ is the most important! Forget anything else and live the moment, think only about the music and then the magic happens! I like a good cup of coffee and chocolate about an hour before the concert, followed by warming up (Grindea technique) and the 30 min prior to the performance I spend alone, no talking, no phone, just thinking about the music, what I want to communicate to the audience. Every concert is a blessing and I sincerely feel grateful for every opportunity I have to perform, to do what I love!

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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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