I had a first rehearsal the other day of a piece of mine with a group of people who had never played my music before. Always an awkward experience. The toughest part is getting started. We extended the introductory pleasantries a bit too long, putting off the inevitable moment when we had to expose ourselves under the worst of conditions – me with my music only half-understood and half-learned by the performers, and the performers putting their technical prowesses on back-burner while they sifted through unfamiliar challenges.
I had a dream many years ago in which I showed up to a party and felt that something was wrong – all the other guests were suppressing little giggles. Gradually I came to understand that they were passing around Polaroids of me naked. When I woke up, I realized that I was dreaming about the experience of attending a performance of a piece of mine – all of my most intimate thoughts on public display.
I think of that dream each time I have a premiere, and even more each time I walk into the first rehearsal of a new piece.