Friday, February 20, 2015

Jane Rutter on Performance

By Daniel Sharp - Interview with Powell Artist Jane Rutter

You’ve spent a lot of time in front of the camera and have a great YouTube Channel. What advice would you give to an artist looking to begin a performing presence online or in front of the video camera?

I feel at ease in front of the camera because I’ve spent so much time in front of an audience! And I find a camera even easier in some ways…You should treat the camera as if you are talking to you best friend. Be natural; include the audience in your world.

There are two main approaches to keep in mind for YouTube (both of which I have incorporated in my YouTube channel): One approach is to be as real as possible and have as much live (fun and 'warts and all') content. The upside being that this can endear you to your viewers: they are able to see your authenticity. The other approach is to treat your YouTube channel as your own TV channel and mainly post very high-resolution, broadcast-quality material. I skate between these two points of view, because I think the world is interested in the real aspects of the performer. It is interesting to see an 'unedited' version of you in concert, talking about how you feel, playing outside, rehearsing, giving teaching tips, having fun in concert, dealing with diverse performance situations. But it's also important for your viewers to see and hear you at your most professional and very best.

Remember your YouTube channel is your channel so you should have it truly represent you and who you are as a flute-player, teacher and personality….

What kinds of performers interest or inspire you?

I believe that fine music touches us on four levels: Emotional, Physical, Intellectual, and Spiritual. Many different types of performers inspire me, especially if they connect these four levels at once. Alain Marion used to say 'make me cry with your flute playing- if you don’t give the audience goose-bumps its not really music…' and so I seek this in other performers: flutists, singers, dancers, violinists, actors. I'm impressed, of course, by fast fingers and a nice big sound, but when a performer really moves me, they remind me of the best of what it is to be human. Jean-Pierre Rampal had such great humanity in his sound (as did Alain Marion). It could make you swoon! Favourites also are Joan Sutherland, Ella Fitzgerald, etoile dancer Sylvie Guillem & many others. Jean-Pierre adored Fred Astaire- as I do. I love it when a performer can 'traverser la barriere' –i.e. cross the barrier and metaphorically 'embrace' the audience through what ever the medium. In playing and performance, I love musical elegance, combined with emotional honesty. It's about connecting with a fundamental truth that comes from the true heart-centre of the performer, and speaks to the listener. It's not about how loud or how fast (I find many younger players 'shout' through their flutes in a misguided sort of earnestness.) If you make a true, beautiful statement (of course you must have the technique with which to do so), then you will win the listener over for life. How incredible it is to have someone say to you 'I played your CD in the labour ward. Your flute was the first sound my baby heard when he was born!' To me that is a real validation of one's artistry…

When Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion played to an audience, not only was it beautiful flute playing, but every person in the auditorium felt embraced.

The declaration of their flutes was a sensual, passionate statement: ‘Come with me! You belong now – you are with me for this musical journey! Come with me, we are together, be reassured! I love and include you…’it is divine when a musical instrument becomes a fully expressive voice in this way. Both Jean-Pierre and Alain used to pick up their flutes in a lesson and play a piece – that they must have played a thousand times before – with all the wonderment of a child watching a flower open for the first time, with the sensuality of a first kiss. Rampal once said: ‘For me, the flute is really the sound of humanity, the sound of man flowing, completely free from his body almost without an intermediary… Playing the flute is not as direct as singing, but it’s nearly the same.'

Follow these links for Jane Rutter's YouTube Channel and website.

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