Premieres and the
composer-performer relationship

Having conducted many of my own pieces, I now much prefer to sit and listen. This allows me an overview of the piece as an audience member as opposed to honing in on various aspects when conducting. It also affords a more relaxed experience, as the composing has been done. Or does it? I find myself listening with a tense posture, and any small musical digression seems huge to my ears. However, once a piece has been played a few times, the musical 'corners' have been ironed out, and I can listen with a more relaxed attitude. There is also something to be said for listening to a piece a year or so on, when everything is not so fresh in your ears. A piece always seems to sound better with distance. Then, instead of over-familiarity, you begin to have an appreciation of the work you've produced. At this point I am then so far removed from the piece that I find myself wondering how a section or phrase was achieved, forgetting entirely that I was the instigator. It is the best place to be, enjoying the performers work as they create a soundscape.

My job is to put the music on the page, the performers job is to get the music off the page. Which brings us to considerations of the composer - performer relationship. Relationship is the key for me. There has to be a dialogue, a sharing of the ownership of the piece, a feeling of 'pulling together'. It is perhaps one of the most satisfying and profound of musical relationships. There has to be trust to allow vulnerabilities to surface, and with this comes an honesty bred from both wanting 'the piece' to mature. There has to be a meeting of the musical minds at some level, and of shared musical experiences. There has to be humour, for it is an intense undertaking for both, and something has to be released somewhere. Both performer and composer are symbiotically linked, and in the best of these relationships, both are aware of this. In rare cases, a musical relationship is not only forged for life, but a friendship also.

Jill Jarman May 2015 (pre premier of double concerto Mindstream: Evelyn Glennie percussion, Hugo Ticciati violin, Omordent chamber orchestra)