The most important qualities (difficult to limit it to one) for any student in the performing arts to cultivate are a spirit of adventurousness and curiosity coupled with determination and a capacity for hard work. When self-doubt occurs, which is inevitable with any sensitive human being, try to let it go and cultivate a sense of perseverance and of plowing through in spite of it, which will help build your confidence. Cultivate a belief in, and a commitment to, your own intuitive capacity to know yourself and your creative process, and as a young student have a willingness and openness to discover it and let it unfold. Cultivate a sense of humor and ability to laugh at your own mistakes and learn that if you’re not making mistakes you’re probably not growing. Cultivate your own uniqueness.
As a composer, the most satisfying moment of my artistic process is when I’ve made it through the starting of the piece (which is like delving in to the unknown and can feel unsettling) and have a path for how to proceed with composing this specific work. For me each piece is different, so I strive to cultivate a fresh perspective with how I approach each new work. But I really enjoy the phase when the clarity of what the piece is about has emerged. I have then settled into a routine of daily composing, and know I’ve carved out the space for myself to dig in to it.
I think it happened unconsciously when I was a very small child, maybe three or four, as I would always sit at my mother’s feet when she would practice. She was an opera singer then (and is now an opera stage director). There was one aria called L’Altra Notte in Fondo al Mare, from Boito’s opera Mefistofele (based on the Faust legend) – that I would always beg her to sing and it would always make me cry. It was so deeply sad and she sang it so beautifully that she always moved me to tears. I think I understood early on that that was what art was supposed to do--and I wanted to do it.