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Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
#2685327 10/27/17 09:17 AM
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I often wonder how they can do this without getting bored. Case in point: George Li is making is Carnegie Hall recital debut tomorrow night playing the same program I heard him play in July of 2016 and I suspect he was playing that program even before I heard him perform. I don't have any figures but my guess is that due to his popularity he has played that same program at least 25 times and maybe as many as 50 times. At least his concerto performances have varied but even there I bet most of his performances are of around 5 different concerti.

He is very busy performing and even studying all the while at Harvard(maybe a reduced course load?), and has not had the years necessary to have a huge repertoire. Yet I wonder how he and others in similar situation don't become bored playing the same recital so many times. I know Kissin seems to perform the same recital for about a year but George has been doing that for more like a year and a half. The program contains pretty much all masterpieces(Haydn Sonata in b minor, Chopin Sonata in B flat minor, Rach Corelli Variations, Liszt Consolation and HR #2) but I don't see how one wouldn't become bored after playing the same recital for at least 1.5 years.

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2685340 10/27/17 10:27 AM
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First there's probably a multitude of reasons for this. It could just be that realistically some performers don't have the time to add new repertoire, they wait much longer to reveal new repertoire, they are encouraged by various people to play certain pieces that have been successful in the past, they DO have other programs for variety, but like the way some programs work together so stick the same thing in certain concerts over and over again (I've seen George Li play a lot of other repertoire), they truly love those pieces and will never be bored of them, or any other number of reasons.

But yes, they probably *DO* get bored of it at times. Any pianist knows the feeling of being bored of a piece, and I don't think concert pianists will be that much different in that sentiment.

Nevertheless, perhaps the more intimately you know something the more unique aspects of the work you can explore. People who play pieces superficially to get the notes and rhythm correctly may actually get MORE easily bored, but if you spend many months striving for perfection there will always be more to do and explore. Just like any long relationship laugh

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2685348 10/27/17 10:42 AM
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Argerich has been playing the same 5 or so concertos for decades and each one seems fresh

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
boo1234 #2685376 10/27/17 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by boo1234
Argerich has been playing the same 5 or so concertos for decades and each one seems fresh
More like 10 concertos. But she also plays a lot of chamber music and duo piano music. And doesn't play her favorite concertos 20 times each year. I think its the number of times a piece is played in a relatively short amount of time that could make it boring.

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2685506 10/27/17 11:42 PM
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I saw him in Hunter College in July of 2016 as well.

According to Medici TV, He played a completely different program July 31, 2017, in Verbier

https://www.medici.tv/en/concerts/george-li-plays-beethoven-liszt/


Last edited by newport; 10/27/17 11:46 PM.

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Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
newport #2685534 10/28/17 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by newport
According to Medici TV, He played a completely different program July 31, 2017, in Verbier

https://www.medici.tv/en/concerts/george-li-plays-beethoven-liszt/
Glad to hear this.

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
T Cord #2685669 10/29/17 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by T Cord
But yes, they probably *DO* get bored of it at times. Any pianist knows the feeling of being bored of a piece, and I don't think concert pianists will be that much different in that sentiment


Honestly I don't get bored of performing pieces. Practicing sure, but not performing. Even if I know the audience has heard it before a hundred times, I don't bat an eye. Even hackneyed pieces like Fur Elise, Fantasie-Impromptu, Clair de Lune, I still enjoy playing them.

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2685687 10/29/17 06:40 AM
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Most concert pianists these days only play one or two complete recital programs a year, taking the same program to every city they go to.

The days when Richter went traveling around rural France with his trusty Yamaha grand, then deciding to play a recital in a barn at short notice, and throwing in Ludus tonalis simply because he felt like playing it (remember, he's not playing from memory), are long gone. When everyone scrutinizes your playing for every tiny flaw, and you can't afford to have memory lapses (or you might not be invited back - there are lots more fish in the pond to choose from, lots more fresh-faced competition winners etc), you'll only program pieces in big venues like Carnegie Hall - especially in your debut recital - that you've been playing for years in less high-profile concert halls and cities.

Of course, if - when - you're well-established, you take a sabbatical for a year or two to learn new rep, overhaul your existing ones etc. And stave off burnout.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
bennevis #2685700 10/29/17 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Most concert pianists these days only play one or two complete recital programs a year, taking the same program to every city they go to.

The days when Richter went traveling around rural France with his trusty Yamaha grand, then deciding to play a recital in a barn at short notice, and throwing in Ludus tonalis simply because he felt like playing it (remember, he's not playing from memory), are long gone. When everyone scrutinizes your playing for every tiny flaw, and you can't afford to have memory lapses (or you might not be invited back - there are lots more fish in the pond to choose from, lots more fresh-faced competition winners etc), you'll only program pieces in big venues like Carnegie Hall - especially in your debut recital - that you've been playing for years in less high-profile concert halls and cities.

Of course, if - when - you're well-established, you take a sabbatical for a year of two to learn new rep, overhaul your existing ones etc. And stave off burnout.......
Yes, but my real question is about the boredom factor.

I don't know how long George Li was playing his Carnegie Hall program before he introduced the Beethoven/Liszt recital program but it could have been a year or even more. And I think it's possible he played it at least 25 times or maybe a lot more because of his great popularity. So I find it difficult to see how he avoided boredom even though his program contained only very great works. I suppose one could say the same thing about those performing in Broadway shows since they perform the same show virtually every day. They can't looked bored but I wonder if they are.

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2685744 10/29/17 01:23 PM
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The Broadway people definitely get bored. Insanely bored. I know this from friends of friends. And some of those shows run for years on end. There is a reason they all have sub lists that go 3 people deep.

Performing solo, there are going to be some good shows and some bad ones, and some pieces where you notice new things about them after performing them 10 times. But solo performers get to choose what they play. Presumably they perform music that is good and that they love, to begin with. And then, there are the different rooms, different audiences, different instruments, and if you're playing concertante, different conductors. Maybe they do get bored sometimes... but honestly I'm kind of envious of the people who get to take the same program in front of audiences a dozen times. By time #5 or 6, all the kinks would be worked out, and one could really enjoy the other 5 or 6 performances.


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Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2685896 10/30/17 08:51 AM
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People forget that this is their JOB. Do you get bored of your job? Most people do, but their job isn't only to play music, but to perform it in a way that sounds fresh and convincing, every time. Same with actors and the Broadway scenario mentioned.

There was a thread awhile back from someone asking what it's like to play in an orchestra and what those people are like away from the instruments. It was a fun thread, but a common theme was how bored the players get, how little they actually need to rehearse, how much people don't get along within an orchestra, etc. My point being that it's a job for most people, just like it's a job for people who sit in a cube all day. If a performer can get away with the same two or three rotating programs for years or even a decade, why not? They don't have to learn new music all the time, they know what they are playing extremely well, and they can focus on arguing about their schedules with their agents instead.

ETA: I, too, am envious of performers who can take the same program with them for long periods of time. I don't perform often these days by choice (okay, it's health issues but don't tell anyone), but when I do perform, I have to spend hours learning music just to perform it once and never see it again. That is not fun. I loved performing 20 years ago just after college when I would take the same music and play it up to several times in a week. That was a blast because the total hours of performing time of the same music made the hours of learning it make much more sense. And if I missed a note on day, I knew I wouldn't make the same mistakes the next.

Last edited by SonatainfSharp; 10/30/17 08:56 AM.

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Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2686364 11/01/17 11:29 AM
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I talked my teacher about this subject - she is still an active performer. Her response is: most professional pianists, including big names like Kissin and Argerich, play the same recital program for a long time. They practice a program for the upcoming years and play them in many places. Then they will replace 1/3 or 1/2 of pieces with something different; then gradually switch to a new concert cycle.

Do they get bored? It depends. When my teacher was younger, she won a piano competition. The prize was having a tour, playing 30-40 concerts with the same program (competition pieces I assume). She said by concert #5 or #6, she was so comfortable with the program that she would explore the city or went shopping in the afternoon before performing in the evening. She said it was a fantastic experience, knowing she was so solid with the program and she could actually try some experiments with certain passages on the stage without feeling scared or bored. Even though she was playing the same program, she reminded herself that the city was different, concert hall was different, the piano was different, and audience was different. This gave her somewhat different perspective so she was not bored.

Now she often gets invites to play in gigs; sometimes she has to learn brand new (modern) pieces or they make special requests on pieces she does not play. She often spends weeks or months to learn these pieces then only perform once. I don't think she gets paid very much either. I asked her how she feels about this. She told me she is grateful that people still invite her to play so she can extend her performing life beyond the age of 50. However, just playing in these gigs alone is probably not good enough to make a living. She plays approx. 40 concerts a year - some are solo but most are chamber music (piano/violin, or piano/violin/clarinet trio).

Re: Pros who play the same recital program for more than a year
pianoloverus #2686407 11/01/17 02:15 PM
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As a rank amateur who performs a 20 - 25 minute recital once a month, I get to choose and play anything I like. I don't get paid, but I just do it for fun (mine & the audience's, hopefully) and for educational purposes (mine & the audience's, hopefully grin).

I learn four to six new pieces a year (depending on their length) and recycle old ones regularly alongside the new ones. That way, I never play the same pieces twice in two consecutive months. By the third month, the audience will have forgotten that one of the pieces had appeared three months previously - or more likely, they would enjoy encountering an old friend wink . And in any case, I don't get the same people in my audience from month to month, except for a small group of diehards who never fail to turn up.....

And unlike a professional, I never (have to) learn anything that I don't like and don't want to keep playing, nor do I ever have to learn one piece for one occasion, only to never perform it again. It takes me a lot of effort to memorize as well as learn the pieces that I perform (I'm a very slow memorizer), so I'm not going to waste time on memorizing anything that I don't plan to keep in my rep indefinitely, and recycle on a regular basis in my recitals.

The joys of being an amateur pianist who has a day job that pays the bills......... smirk


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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