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Nicholas Phan: Learning While Performing

Written just after his recital in Columbus, Georgia in late October, in this post from The Carnegie Hall Debut series, Nicholas Phan speaks about the relief of performing, and the new artistic nuances it reveals.

Nicholas makes his Carnegie Hall recital debut, accompanied by Myra Huang, tonight in Weill Recital Hall.

After having spent so much time rehearsing all of this music by ourselves, both Myra and I had never felt more ready to take a recital program out on stage—we both felt relatively calm, and excited to see what was going to happen when we added an audience to the mix. It was a really fun performance, although I have never felt more exhausted from a program. An evening filled with a myriad of intense ups and downs, and so much complex, intricate music. It took incredible focus and energy to give the audience all that we wanted them to have after our hours upon hours of rehearsal and discovery.

While in some ways performance is the end goal, it is still a part of the learning process and merely a stop on a long journey. Stepping out in front of that appreciative audience in Georgia, their energy foreign and fresh to our music-making, brought out in us a different kind of focus and adrenaline in which new intricacies and subtleties of the songs started to open up to us, and we started to scratch the surface of newer, deeper layers in many of the pieces. It's one thing to talk to yourself, but it is quite another to communicate your thoughts to another person—through dialogue comes discovery.

It's been a real luxury to revisit each of those moments again in the rehearsal room, exploring those new possibilities of expression and depth. So often, once a program or show is up and running, there is no time or chance (or willingness) to revisit and build upon the discoveries that we happened upon once an audience in the room transformed our solitary music-making into a moment of communication and dialogue. Tonight, we take our recital out for display again, this time up at SUNY Oswego. I'm really excited to see what new things we discover tonight—which doors and pathways this audience will open up for us, and the new worlds to which they will lead.

Read the full post on Nicholas Phan's blog 

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