Musicians need to have flexibility and should be able to change their playing quickly
When I was 18, I performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin conducting. The day before the concert I played it to him in his dressing room and although he was really nice, he started giving me suggestions on how to do things differently. I thought it was too late, but he told me that musicians need to have flexibility and should be able to change their playing quickly. It’s important to adapt to what’s going on around you, or to a venue is really important.
Later, not long after I graduated, I started working with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. We were rehearsing Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and I confidently played an additional chord in a rest. Everyone in the orchestra started laughing and I was mortified. At the end of the rehearsal the conductor, Charles Dutoit, took me aside and told me not to be embarrassed – he was pleased because I’d played with such conviction. He told me that it’s better to be someone who really tries than someone who is too scared to play.
Photo: Bo huang