During a recent television interview, Barbara Streisand stated that she has battled stage fright for a long time. She was absent from the stage for 27 years because of this. So if you ever wondered where that incredible live performer went, now you know. Ms. Streisand said that she battles to conquer this debilitating condition even today. In 1967 she was performing in Central Park and forgot the lyrics of the song. Unable to overcome this incident, Ms. Streisand did not perform live again until 1994 in Las Vegas, assisted by a teleprompter – just in case.
As a teenager, I was privileged to play the trumpet before the famous English Conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent, in a school quartet playing 17th Century German Tower Music, to an audience of about 300 people in Bath, England. I nervously started off the music, which is played in rounds*, only to discover that when my colleagues chimed in, one by one, they were playing a completely different tune, in a completely different key! I had started on the wrong tune, on the wrong page …….
To cut a long story short, the resulting cacophony only added to my nervousness, so I stopped before the end of the tune causing my colleagues to stop one by one themselves to the great embarrassment of us musicians – if we could still call ourselves that – and our red-faced, livid conductor. When the performance finally wound to a halt there was complete silence. Our conductor leaned over to me and asked if my parents were there. I replied that my mother was, and he retorted: “Pity!” If you click the link, you will see that 17th Century German Tower Music is no longer on the Marlborough College music curriculum.
I have been absent from the stage now for 50 years, beating Ms. Streisand’s record. That’s what stage fright can do!
*Rounds in 17th Century German Tower Music: the tune was played by 4 instruments. Each instrument starting off 4 beats after the one before and playing a different part of the tune.