A little story from my first tour to the US

A little story –

It was 2007 and one of my first trips to the US. I had only been performing and touring full time for little over a year, and there were plenty of “first time that’s ever happened” moments. I haven’t had many a dress disaster, thank goodness, but I it can happen to us all at some point. I was performing with the lovely Julien Quentin, a programme of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Ravel. The first piece was the entire D minor partita, a 45 minute work for solo violin Bach began writing in 1717, the same year as the Stradivarius I now play.

My dress had a chiffon insert trail at the back which had been slowly but steadily fraying for some time. I tend not to think much, or at all really, about the dresses I wear. Really they are like work clothes to me, albeit quite pretty ones. Once a new dress is bought (a rare occurrence born out of necessity due to the current one falling apart) I never really think of them again. This recital day, like usual, we’d been beavering away rehearsing the works of the afore mentioned composers, and the dress hadn’t had a look in. 45 minutes before we were due on stage I brought it out the bag to iron, only to discover the fraying was worse than I’d realised. In the absence of a sewing kit, I decided to use double sided sticky tape. It was a disaster, and the more tape I added the worse it became. I ran upstairs to ask anyone I could find if it look acceptable and was met with literally no words, even though they knew I had no time and no solution. I ran back downstairs, Julien following me and helping me out (he didn’t have to play till after the Bach), he kept telling me things would be OK. It was concert time already. So concerned was he, he decided to help me up the stairs. In the hysteria of the moment, and my rushing around, and Julien being so concerned, he came that little bit too close to me climbing those stairs, and stood on the chiffon part of the dress. It ripped – but really badly this time. Now there was a hole, a proper one – and this was my only dress. I apologised to everyone, went back to my trusted sticky tape and fumbled with it for another five minutes. I wish I’d taken a photo, it looked so ridiculous. Like an enormous ball of scrunched up sticky tape attached to the back of my dress. I had to go on stage, and hope that no one could see my back. In order to focus, I closed my eyes. In fact 4 whole movements went by before I opened them again. What I hadn’t realised was I had managed to turn halfway round so my side was facing the audience. In that moment, my eyes open to tune briefly before beginning the formidable Chaconne, I saw a man in the audience peering with all his might. We’re all human, things go wrong.. even when a stage is involved. Anyone else have a performance story to share?