Why don’t you just do more concerts, Rachel?

I get asked that question a lot. Well, the quick answer is, I actually don’t want to. They are wonderful, but they are tiring. I get totally worn out. And I need recovery time. Time to do not-much. Time to see friends. Time to walk a dog-that-doesn’t-belong-to-me, or practise yoga.

I thought I’d list what goes on before a St James concert. I’ve chosen this one because it’s where most of my concerts are.

  1. During the day, everything at home is put in a big pile. I’ve practised everything I need to do, and polished the cello. Bit antsy, but ok.
  2. Drive to the venue about 3 hours before the concert. Still antsy.
  3. Get everything into the venue – cello, stools, lights, wine, tablecloths – you name it, it’s loaded in.
  4. Move all the pews around and count the number of seats we have to put out.
  5. Sweep the floor.
  6. Set up the bar. Put the wine in the fridge. Check all the glasses are clean. Set out the tablecloths, snacks etc.
  7. Set up the CD table. Still antsy.
  8. Get the programs and list of people that are coming and set up the ‘check -in table’.
  9. Wash the chairs.
  10. Hang black-out curtains.
  11. Put up signs so that people don’t barge in before they open the doors (yes. It happens. I’ve had huge number of excuses….).
  12. Check all the right lights are turned on (or off) for the start of the gig.
  13. Get dressed. Start to get calmer.
  14. Check with all helpers that they are ok and know what to do. Realise most things are done now, and calm down even more.

Then I can get ready to play. Now, I have help that makes things easier – and I so appreciate it. But that all goes on before I can sit at a cello to warm up. On Saturday night, after the second one gig, the entire thing is reversed. So not only am I emotionally drained from whatever it is I’m playing (because I don’t seem to play unless my heart is on my sleeve!), I’m also physically worn-out too.

The Sunday after two St James concerts I lie pretty low. Try and dig in the garden. Noodle around the house and listen to records. Eat some good food.

And it’s enough for me. How long will I keep doing it? Not sure. At the moment, it’s fine. There’ll come a time where it’s not fine, and I’ll stop.

But not just yet.