Are you just not in the mood to attend that show tonight? Here are some ways that artists and concert-goers alike can back out of concert engagements, reasons that may or may not be out of their control.
Unorchestrated Transport Woes
Uninformed airline crew members occasionally stray from the protocol for handling oversize instruments, even after adequate preparation has been made by the flying musician. In one instance, a cello belonging to Kremerata Baltica was initially grounded en route to Toronto. Without the cello, the ensemble would have had to suspend that evening’s concert in Koerner Hall. Happily, the instrument was delivered 30 minutes before showtime.
A Health Scare
Pianist Martha Argerich continues to be a force of nature at the keys. However, she experiences crippling stage fright before every performance. She occasionally cancels concert appearances for reasons such as this, leaving concert organizers to search for a replacement at the last moment. The plus side is that the stage is opened up to other promising musicians.
Tight Border Control
Between recent travel restrictions and lagging artistic support, musicians will have to reconsider whether their performance activities will be politically sound, in destinations such as the US.
Make sure you note the right city before driving out to that choral concert — there is a St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in each of Kitchener, Campbellford, and Kingston, and so many more across Ontario!
Because the artist can’t take listeners on a voyage if he can’t make the trip himself. Cue Daniil Trifonov:
For two piano greats, the show would not go on unless they had essential possessions with them, which had to be moved to concert venues from their private homes.
Glenn Gould played his concerts on his low-seating chair, from a position that allowed his arms to move freely around the piano. It was his unfailing accomplice until his death.
We even made a podcast about it that you can listen to right HERE!
For Vladimir Horowitz, his personal Steinway grand piano was the sole instrument that he concertized on in his twilight years; he demanded it to be shipped to the States — and all the way to Russia and back. Indeed, many of his most talked-about performances were on this piano.
Music With “Substance”
In Evenings with Horowitz: A Personal Portrait, David Dubal recounts that the legendary pianist had been put on antidepressants and alcohol on the advice of his doctor. This severely impeded his playing, and critics certainly took note. Thankfully, Horowitz sought out counsel from another doctor, detoxed his routine and his performances regained their sparkle. This episode occurred as he was nearing 80 years, no less!
Missing Your Stage Cue
Jonas Kaufmann and Angela Gheorghiu’s duo turned into a real-life nightmare for opera singers, as Gheorghiu missed her cue to come on stage, leaving Kaufmann to improvise by himself with “Ah! Do we not have a soprano! (Ah! Non abbiamo un sopran!)”
An Injury On The Job
During Glenn Gould’s visit to Steinway Hall in New York, the piano technician greeted him by placing a well-intentioned hand on the shoulder. Gould detailed the trauma he sustained from the encounter: “The first injury was on the left shoulder, and the x-ray showed that the scapula had descended by approximately one centimetre. This has healed, but it caused a secondary, considerably more worrying effect. The [ulnar] nerve which controls the fourth and fifth fingers had been compressed and is inflamed” so that his playing had been affected. Considering how neither of the five doctors he consulted found anything wrong, Gould presented a rather acute self-diagnosis. He followed through with 117 orthopedic and chiropractic treatment sessions, and cancelled the following three months of concerts. On top of accusing the Steinway technician of causing his injury, Gould filed a lawsuit against the company for $300,000 (USD) for which he was compensated a tidy $9,372.35.
Ain’t nothing like a Canadian winter.