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The personal risk

published: 2010-10-11

What, I wondered, makes this pianist so good? I closed my eyes and listened to the music, without feeling particularly sad or touched or happy. In fact, nothing of the sort. Still, the music that left her fingers had me engaged. I was entirely absorbed while listening.
At one stage a voice in my mind whispered, “relax” and I realized I was frowning. My jaws were clenched, my shoulders tight. I hardly dared breathe, let alone move in my seat. It was this, this anxiety, this fear that held me in my chair. Fear while listening to a concert pianist? Yes. Anticipation mixed with terror. The anxiety that she could well lose control, like a race-car spinning full speed out of the pit. Perhaps into the crowd. Into us.

She was pushing herself and playing on the edge, almost over it. But she managed to stay within the realm of her technique. Only just. Sometimes she’d miss a note as the music was so desperately waiting to gallop away beneath her hands. But she’d pull the reins, she drew the music in. Drew us in with it. And I left the concert not only dizzy with excitement, but reminded that there is only one way, and one way only to practice the arts: by taking personal risks.

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