The Inside Story: Brian Field and PLAYING ON THE EDGE
September 23, 2019
Brian Field began his musical endeavors at the age of 8 with the study of piano and began his first serious compositional efforts when he was 16. Devoting himself to composition after his undergraduate studies, Brian continued his musical studies at the Juilliard School in New York City where he was awarded his Master of Music degree. From Juilliard, Brian attended Columbia University, where he earned his Doctorate.
Brian’s musical works include music for television and stage. These include solo acoustic, chamber, ballet, choral, and orchestral works—stylistically ranging from serious contemporary pieces to jazz to electronic music. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States and internationally.
Today, Brian is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover what happened when Brian attended a performance of his piece without the pianist’s knowledge…
Who was your first favorite artists growing up?
Growing up, the only music I purposefully listed to – that is, picked up, took out, and played (on a turntable, ahem) was J.S. Bach, so he was my early favorite. It was one of the only LPs that my parents had – a collection of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II – played on the harpsichord. I played that over and over and over….it was the only one I had. Once I was in high school, people started asking me questions about pop music, and – sweating – I started purposefully listening to that too! Starting with The Beatles…
If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?
While I’ve spent over 40 years playing piano, organ, and harpsichord…I’d love to wake up one day and be a great guitar player. My wife bought me a wonderful guitar as a wedding gift 24 years ago, and while I spent a couple years (very) erratically stumbling through that, I never really dug into studying it seriously. I love the sound of it though, particularly acoustic guitar; plus, it is so much more portable than a piano (or pipe organ)!
What does this album mean to you personally?
I have friends who have worked with the Sirius Quartet and its members over the years, but this was my first time working with them. All of them are super musicians and because they are also composers, bring a slightly different perspective and approach to their playing – so that was a great deal of fun. This particular work also happened to be composed upon the birth of my first son, so when I hear a certain movement, I find myself transported back to the days of his infancy. (Both sublime….and sleep-addled. 😊 )
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
Once I was attending a concert where a work of mine was being performed, and the performer didn’t know I was in the audience – it was a large gathering of about 200 people. Well, the pianist either didn’t rehearse enough or just didn’t care, because he played my piece terribly. After awhile I just couldn’t take it any longer and I stood up and shouted at him to stop and start over. As you can imagine, everyone was startled – most of all the pianist! He started over, got through it – slightly better than before – and then promptly fled the concert hall!
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
My favorite place for “creative time” is in my home studio – not super fancy or anything – but I can work quietly there with undivided concentration. (And the coffee is always hot and on hand!)
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
My favorite musical moment on this album is the second movement of my string quartet. It starts so simply and builds in emotion and intensity before dissolving away…as my son told me once upon hearing it, “that’s a perfect soundtrack piece.” 😊