This gig did not start out promising. We had a LOONNNNGGGG three hour rehearsal the first night with no soloists, on a fairly dull and repetitive score, filled with heavy irrelevant playing. We are all coming off summer break, and I’ll tell you, I’ve been practicing, but I was not prepared for 40 pages of long tones and periodic loud interjections. My face was falling off by the end. This was a rock and roll concert, a symphonic arrangement of The Who’s Quadrophenia. I did not know this music. But listening to the symphonic arrangement of its background music I was unmoved. I was sitting among people who can be… cynical. I was heading that way myself.
But the next afternoon our soloists arrived. Alfie Boe. Billy Idol. Eddie Vedder. And Pete Townshend. And things immediately improved. They could not have been more delightful – because they were all SO INTO IT. The rehearsal was a full run through, a few hours before the concert, and they could have been forgiven for doing mic checks, marking through two songs, and leaving to take a nap, but in fact they sang it and danced it, full out, worked earnestly together with the conductor to improve elements of it, and asked us to try a few things again so they could be better.
This was the complete opposite of our first-night mood. I missed a couple of entrances in the rehearsal (not the concert!) because I couldn’t take my eyes off these men having the time of their lives, not fooling around but just genuinely doing their best job singing and performing this music they clearly loved. I didn’t love this music, but I loved THEM. I appreciated and respected their work, their intensity, and their JOY in the performance.
(This was a great show. Tour information for Classic Quadrophenia is HERE – but be warned that a video autoplays so don’t click if you can’t be loud.)
This is a day I can learn from. First of all, if I’m not feeling the joy in the work I’m doing, I need to figure out who is. Is it the conductor? The soloist? The composer, arranger or producer getting their music played? Is it the audience? And if I can’t see anyone loving it, can I find a way to be the one who loves it? Can I be that leader, the bringer of delight to the experience?
And if not, should I have taken the gig at all? That’s a choice I can make, too.
This was a message I needed today. It’s one I’ll carry through the next few months of busy, and hopefully keep coming back to when things get dark and busy and I feel tempted to phone it in. Why not care about the work? Why not enjoy it? Why not LOVE it?