13 Aug 2018

Pre-concert rituals: Philippe Quint

by Renée Huang

Professional musicians often spend much of their lives on the road performing in concert venues around the globe. Amid the hectic travel schedules, rehearsals, practice time and adjustments to a different time zone, culture and climate, regular routine is sacrificed. We ask our guest artists to share what pre-concert rituals help keep them grounded. Philippe Quint, our Artist in Association, takes us through his pre-show routine.

My pre-concert rituals differ from performance to performance. I try to individually judge necessities for every single concert. There are three main factors that play into this: Travel, time changes, and repertoire.

I always try to arrive at performances as early as possible to get accustomed to time differences and climate/temperature changes. The same is also necessary for my instrument! Playing on an old instrument (1708 “Ruby” Stradivari violin) means that the instrument might also be impacted by such changes.

If it’s new repertoire or a world premiere of a piece that no one has ever heard, it is possible that I will practice the entire time during the engagement.

I try to stay away from coffee as it only gives a temporary artificial boost and can make me jittery and anxious rather than alert. In general, I consider myself to be quite a hyper individual with enough adrenaline that does not need to be mixed with caffeine.

I am very careful with my diet as well. Depending on the time of the concert, I try to stay away from spicy or acidic foods. Right before going onstage, I prefer to be alone in my dressing room with water supplies and reduce any communications to a minimum.

I know a lot of folks believe that artists’ lives are very glamorous, with exotic travel, accolades, and being a momentary hero of the day. But the background story is that while the thrill of performance is inimitable by all means, life on the road is all about discipline, ability to withstand pressures, and keeping yourself in check at all times.

Want to know more about Philippe Quint? Check out this video from Strings Magazine: