Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Fear and Uncertainty!

It is the curse of any artist that one is only as good as one's last performance, painting or book. The artist is usually an insecure soul who questions their abilities at every turn, and who often requires positive stroking and reinforcement. Unfortunately for most artists, the reviews that are received are more often negative than they are positive, and more often scathing than they are glowing. It should come as no surprise then, that many performers withdraw from live shows as a result of debilitating bouts of stage fright. Barbra Streisand, in spite of enormous and unquestionable talent (and ego) refused to perform live for over 20 years. Carly Simon only recently returned to the live stage and only under the most strict and rigorous of conditions. While I would never presume to place myself in the company of these distinguished women, I truly can relate to the anxiety and nausea that accompanies live performance. People who know me well have seen my pre-performance ritual of tearing a new one to the closest victim around me! (To all of you who have been that poor unfortunate soul, I am profoundly sorry!!) I also cannot eat anything before I sing, as vomiting is not an unusual occurrence. Many will be stunned by these admissions, but it should be stated that public performance is among the most difficult things to accomplish. Anybody who has ever stood in front of a group to deliver a presentation, speech or song can relate to my feelings of anxiety. When surveyed as to the number one phobia or general fear, being in front of an audience usually finds its way to the top of the list. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I perform, I always seem to require a puking receptacle. And so, it is within this historical context that I throw myself to the lions once again. In November, the women cantors and soloists of Toronto are joining together for a community-wide concert in support of Kolel-the centre for Jewish learning. Why I have allowed myself to get involved with this project has been a nagging question of mine for months. (Yes-I know why!! I am representing my community, my congregation and myself-blah, blah, blah!!!) If ever there should be a time when I should question my abilities and talents, it is with these immensely talented women. At our first meeting, I felt very much the fraud. They were busy discussing possible repertoire and musicians and all I was hoping was that my underarm stains weren't showing. Tomorrow we meet again to finally sing together and, perhaps put together a tentative program. I am so scared that my stomach is already talking to me in that language that only the two of us understand. A dear friend, who is also involved in this exercise in gas and terror, assures me that I will feel better once the actual music starts, but I am less certain. Since there is literally no escaping from my fate, I will ask this question-Is it possible to e-sing a concert? I open it up for discussion!!! I will keep you all apprised of the exercise and egos over the upcoming months.

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