Guy Johnston

Thursday, 05 December 2013

How does the British cellist prepare himself before an evening performance?

I like to be by myself before going on stage and I play through the work in my head

In an ideal world, I like to have a routine before a concert but it’s not always possible. I try to have a big lunch – chicken or pasta, something filling – and then later, like many musicians, eat a banana for energy. I remember once, when I was doing a concert with the BBC Philharmonic, I really panicked because I didn’t have my usual banana. In the end a runner found me a whole bunch from a nearby market stall that was closing down for the day. It was quite funny at the time and calmed me down.

I also like to take a nap and try to keep calm. Travelling and rehearsing can be quite tiring, and giving a concert requires a lot of energy and focus. Having a sleep gives me a bit of time to relax and switch off.

If I’m playing a concerto, I like to be by myself before going on stage and I play through the work in my head. I also look at the score and if there’s time, it’s nice to go through the work with the conductor and talk about it in a slightly detached way – it helps me to get into the right mindset. If I’m with the Aronowitz Ensemble then it’s different. We’re a team and we spend time together, supporting each other before performing.

Photo: Jack Liebeck

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