Into the Ether
Sunday, 15 February 2015 00:08

How making noise at the State Library became an extremely rewarding experience

On Valentine's day this year I decided to go to the State Library and make lots of noise.

I was unknowingly signed up by my wife to perform as part of the Valentine's Busk taking place at Brisbane's Southbank Arts Precinct to raise funds for the Children's Hospital Music Therapy Program.  My performance would be a half-an-hour set playing piano and singing at the State library.  Although I have played many public performances in a group scenario, I entered this event with slight trepidation as I had never before played solo piano at such a public venue.

On Wednesday I found out that my lovely Valentine had signed me up to take part in the event, so I had four days to put together a set list.  After much deliberation, inner turmoil, tears and tantrums I arrived at a list of six songs:

1. Mona Lisa's and mad hatters (Elton John)

2. Desperado (The Eagles)

3. Elton's song (also Elton John)

4. Brunswick Serenade (an original by yours truly)

5. Karma Police (Radiohead)

6. I don't like Mondays (Boomtown Rats)

My plan was to start off gently and then launch into the louder numbers toward the end of the set.

14 January 2015, Valentines day - the day had arrived.   At the entry to the library I registered for the event and was directed to level 2.  As we walked through the library to the location of the piano my anxiety levels shot through the roof.  The piano, set up in the main area of the library, was surrounded by desks and chairs sitting people quietly studying or reading;  I was about to play a bunch of loud pop songs to a room (and when I say room I mean a whole two levels of the library) full of people enjoying silence.  At that moment, this was the quietest room in the world and I was going to destroy it!  Picturing my performance being met with a mass evacuation of the building I frantically searched for a member of the library staff, to make sure that this was the correct piano to be playing on (surely there must be another piano in a sound proof room somewhere, yes?).  The librarian assured me that this was the correct, and the only piano, and that everyone in the building should be aware that the event would be taking place.

As I imagined the looks of horror by people packing up their things and leaving the library, I was extremely thankful that a group of wonderful friends and family had turned up to support me. 2:59pm, I sat down at the piano and (as the first performer of the afternoon) timidly apologised to anyone that had come to the library for the quiet. Then, breaking through a lifetime of conditioning on library etiquette, I crashed into the first chord.  This was perhaps one of the most difficult things I have done in my entire life.  But once I got started, it felt good.  In fact, it felt great!  People gathered on the balcony to the upper level to watch me play and others stopped what they were doing to listen.  And best of all, no one (for the most part) got up and left!  I also managed to drum up over $50 to donate to the Childrens Hospital.

And that was how i spent my Valentine's day.  If you ever have a chance to do the same, I strongly recommend it.  The event went on to win a Guinness World Record for the largest busk (which I unfortunately was unable to stay around for) and had Gotye's band The Basics playing a concert.  Well done and a huge thank you to Annalies and Megan and the other organisers of the event, which was a great success and something they can be incredibly proud of.

And so after one afternoon, I can now say I have: i) played a solo piano performance in public, ii) made lots of noise at the State Library, iii) played a live performance on a grand piano and iv) played the same bill as Gotye (albeit 5 hours apart).  That's got to be a bucket list effort, right?  At any rate, I think it boosted my confidence to continue through another year of the ongoing and taxing challenge of promoting my art.  Now, where's that easel...?


Last modified on Friday, 17 April 2015 01:54