As a kid I wanted to be an actor. I was a nerdy kid – a Shakespeare fan. When I was twelve I performed Hamlet on my paper theatre in its original length: five hours (shortening would have been, of course, cheating!). Without my mom’s homemade cookies and several litres of tea, it would have been a traumatising experience for the incarcerated and extremely patient audience.
Later, when I graduated from high school I took up a career as an actor, playing leading roles at a children’s theatre. Everything went well, but somehow I felt something was missing. The music. I realised my biggest passion was the combination of music and drama. The plays I loved the most were often the ones written with somewhat of a musician’s flow, and some of the music I adored was the music with a sense of drama in it.
When I was nine years old I went to the record store and bought my first Pavarotti record with my allowance (again: nerdy!). I loved the 3 Tenors – I listened to them over and over again, but Pavarotti’s sound especially touched me in a way I could not explain. I loved the way he expressed himself with his voice. I was a boy soprano. I attended a choir and I was singing all the time. And after my voice transition in puberty, I never stopped singing.
So when I, as a very young man, realised my passion was the combination of music and drama, it was only natural for me to become a singer. And there I found exactly what I was looking for! Whether it is in an opera production or in a concert, being able to tell a story while expressing my inner self through music is a privilege I feel very passionate about.
By getting more experienced as a concert singer and as an opera singer, I feel like I’m able to go deeper and deeper into the music. As an artist I try to be as present in the moment as possible, because being present feels like a key for me. A key that brings me beyond my own personality and makes me an instrument of music instead of an instrument of my own thoughts. In the process of making music, my thoughts and my personality are very insufficient compared to the vaste genius of the various composers whose music I have the privilege to perform. Do not get me wrong, I am lucky enough to have a high level of self confidence in what I do. And singing is a craft you have to learn how to master, which is a process where the analytical mind can be of huge importance. But when performing a concert I try to let go of my mind, my thoughts and my self-awareness, because these things are incredibly irrelevant to the audience and prevent me from expressing the true nature of music. It is liberating to let go of my own thoughts and connect with the music, doing WHATEVER feels right in that particular moment.
So when people talk about stage presence, this is it! Stage presence is not some kind of ‘showing off’ or over-acting; it is in fact the opposite. It is letting go of the narcissist within you and being as honest an artist as you can be. It is very liberating for an artist to be present on stage, because it enables you to get limitless access to the nature of human beings – not just your own personality, but ALL the colours on the human palette.
And the connection between the audience and the artist becomes one of heart and soul, with an increasingly strong energy field that enriches both parties.
When I succeed in being present in the concert moment, it makes me able to become a medium for the music.
And that… that is the most wonderful feeling. And it is the most life-affirming place to be!