Last week I had the distinguished opportunity to perform at Weill Recital Hall inside Carnegie Hall. I’ve performed in many concert and recital halls, but this was to be my debut at one of the world’s most famous piano-performance venues.
I was performing as a nominee for “Solo Piano Album of the Year” (Enlightened Piano Radio). Weill Recital Hall is an intimate and elegant space which seats 268 people. The hall was beautiful. A huge chandelier hung overhead. The piano was a beautiful and meticulously maintained Steinway “D”.
I was ushered backstage through a series of corridors – some of which were lined with framed letters from previous performers (whoa! there’s one from Franz Lizst!). I found myself at a large glassed security station before being escorted to the elevator which would carry me to the backstage area.
Carnegie doesn’t allow filming, video or recording, so unfortunately the performance itself now lives only in my mind (and those in the audience). I did, however, capture a bunch of photos backstage and after the show which I hope give a clearer picture of what it’s REALLY like to perform at Carnegie Hall!
Here’s the entrance “backstage” to Will Recital Hall. There are two green rooms on the left with a bathroom in-between. BTW – the green rooms each have a wonderful Steinway upright piano. There’s a flat-screen TV so you can watch a live stage-feed:
Hanging backstage with Doug Hammer (and awesome ‘photo-bomber’ Tim Neumark!):
Everyone I know fights pre-performance jitters. I guess “Carnegie Hall” can be pretty intimidating. My hands often get cold/clammy – which makes playing piano difficult. Thanks to a suggestion from my friend Joe Bongiorno – 10mg of Propranolol about an hour before performing has been a help:
Here I am hanging with my pal Cathy Oakes just prior to going on stage:
“Mr. Girouard, it’s time!”…Here’s the stairway leading to the stage:
Here I am waiting at the sound/video booth (the one in the vest) – I’m up Next! The entrance to the stage is on the right (you can just see the hand of the Carnegie Stage Manager who kept things running smoothly):
Live video feed to know when to enter the stage (from this view, the stage entrance is on the right just behind the dais):
The door opens…
From the moment I walked on stage, I felt right at home… There were so many pieces I wanted to play – but I only had 5 minutes. I knew I wanted to play something from the nominated album…. but, what to play?
…as I finished my piece, I could hear my heartbeat. I opened my eyes and played the final notes. Wow, what a rush! The acoustics were meticulous. The piano itself was extremely responsive – very light and feathery touch – and the piano “opened up” very quickly. This made it easy for me to transition from soft, intimate passages to louder, aggressive sections. The ebony keys in particular were wonderfully tactile. Time and space had disappeared as I entered the world of piano like I had never experienced.. and now….A wonderful applause was waiting 🙂 Truly a performance I will never forget.
Photos aren’t allowed during the show, and I was anxious to capture this moment just after the show with my lovely lady 🙂
Here’s another Post-show shot with Mom & Dad – my biggest fans!:
I walked out of Carnegie with a glow. It was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences to this point in my life. I’ve worked SO hard to get here – and it was truly a reward. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” – “PRACTICE!”. This is so true.
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