I turn 30 next week, and I was lucky enough to close off my 20s by performing my all-Beethoven solo recital at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, surrounded by great friends from my Eastman days (incidentally, meeting these friends at Eastman kicked off my 20s, so I'm really going back full circle here).
I struggle and obsess all the time to form coherent thoughts about why classical music matters in 2017. I decided that this last concert as a 20-something was the time to make myself address this question in front of an audience. And so despite how nervous it made me feel, I did. I'm on the fence about giving such a soliloquy in the middle of a recital - I half feel that it's too self-indulgent, and unnecessary if the music performance can/should speak for itself, but anyway, I'm proud I did it. Here's a rough transcript of the speech, which I gave after I performed the first piece of the program:
Being a professional classical pianist in 2017 is a peculiar choice. So many things in the world seem to be crumbling around us, especially this year, and every day I ask myself what good I'm doing in the world by being a pianist. I have to clarify - I don't doubt the positive effect of playing concerts - I think that the power of classical music is self-evident in live performances. But you have to remember that out of all the hours I spend at the piano, only 5%, maybe even less, of that time is spent actually performing for people in public. You can imagine that leaves countless hours where it's just me and my piano at home, with occasionally my poor roommate as witness.