After a week of adjudicating some fine young singers in Toronto at the Music Festival, I was thrilled to see some of them sing yesterday in the Intermediate and Senior Trophy categories. I told them I would be writing about them today...
Why? Because we talked about being where you are, and taking competition in the truest sense of the word - not to "win" or beat somebody else, but rather, to find what the self can discover in the moment, and draw the best out of that moment.
As the Olympics come to a close - we see athletes winning medals, and in many cases, finding "personal bests" - times/scores/et al.
It is the "personal best" of the singer that is key. We are only as good as our last performance. We are remembered by that. WE remember that!
Our ultimate competition then, is with our previous self, with our previous performance.
This philosophy, I believe, allows us to find truth in our performance. It gives us permission to EXPRESS and create and share, rather than try to impress or show off. One is authentic, and the other is phony. One exudes truth and develops from the inside, and the other exudes shallowness and is put on to pretend.
One is an artist; the other is not.
I would like to believe I can see the difference, and certainly feel the difference. When I am listening and experiencing performance, I trust my "hair-ometer"! If I get a tingle up the right side of my neck, something touched me - something real and organic and true. It doesn't matter if it's "perfect" or "polished" - it either touches me or it doesn't.
True technique means you are conscious of none and we don't see it when you perform but it is there. Summoning your talent at will puts that discipline in action, and takes the day as it presents itself. The competition is with the previous summoning. Can you create the magic you say you possess for others to experience?
What was so heartening to hear, and see, was each singer yesterday taking their work seriously, but still enjoying themselves. They were focused but not closed off; they were able to support each other as audience members; they responded to each other as colleagues, not as rivals; They were PRESENT in their performances. They dug DEEP to find MORE than they had during the week. They had thought about what they would DO with this performance.
The levels and depths and authenticity were exciting and delightful to observe and experience.
Were the performances perfect? of course not!!! What does that mean?
Were there some glitches? Of course! Did it matter? Absolutely not! Why? Because they were real, authentic young artists, EXPRESSING and bringing the best they could bring in the MOMENT. The art of expression is simply real. The reality brings authenticity in process. The process allows for achievement just by DOING.
Each of these singers showed they belonged - they dressed well for the occasion, they prepared with their ability as it is developed now, they presented with presence, with dedication, with passion, with commitment.
Each of them was there to do a job - and whether they realized it or not - the job was to simply compete with the previous self of the week of festival and perform the songs and arias with another level of authenticity that they had claimed during the week of work.
Whether it was conscious or not - each of them dug a little more deeply and found more in that performance. Nobody dialed it in. Each was present in the MOMENT of discovery, relying on the work and preparation they had done to get them there.
It was an honour to watch this and experience it with them. Each of them gave me a 'hair-ometer' moment....the authenticity projected and touched me. THIS is artistry on its journey.
We all need to strive for that - and MAKE it conscious. The electric reality of our artistic spirit and our work culminating in the performance that competes with self - and wins.