Is that a word that already lives in your vocabulary? It didn't exist in mine, until late last week. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as something done on the spur of the moment or without preparation, or a hasty improvisation. As a classically trained musician, the concept was never one I spent much time exploring. As a radio host, doing something "off the cuff" is an even bigger challenge. Well after last week, I think I've made a huge step toward embracing the autoschediastic.
Among my many duties here in Minnesota is giving pre-concert talks from time to time for local ensembles. Last week, I was scheduled to speak with composer Tyshawn Sorey, who had a work titled "Autoschediams" on a Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert. In the spirit of that word, the work was an on-stage, live improvisation. Tyshawn led the orchestra, with different hand signals and gestures, which corresponded with the members of the orchestra improvising right there, on the spot. They were definitely sounds your typical orchestra-goer weren't used to, but I think I was able to engage a nice conversation with Tyshawn, that cleared things up a little for the audience. We also talked about the rich musical heritage of Newark, NJ, and the incredible work the AACM is doing.
Because our conversations went so well on the first two pre-concert interviews, I was prepared to go completely rogue for the final one, with questions pointed directly at Tyshawn's relationship with the concept of "black music". I arrived, ready to shock and awe, only the find that Tyshawn wasn't there!
So what did I do next? I practiced the art of autoschediam. With nothing prepared but interview questions, I went out and "improvised" a speech, based on the questions I had prepared and what I'd learned from Tyshawn from our previous conversations. Following my sermon, I was very excited to see that there were several questions from the audience, of which I was able to answer them all. I got lots of positive feedback, and despite my crippling self-doubt, I'm beginning to feel really great about what happened there, at the last minute.
So what's the moral of the story? For me, I've learned that life is an improvisation, and the more you're prepared for the unprepared, the more likely you are to learn something new about yourself.
The concert also included a new work by a composer named Vijay Iyer. I've featured both Vijay and Tyshawn in my pick for this week. Check it out!