While playing three recitals in three days a week ago at the Steinway Halls in the DFW area (affectionately known as the Metroplex), I found myself falling into an interesting routine on concert days. Normally, I don't have the luxury of having an "empty" day before a recital, although I usually take the afternoon off to clear the mind and rest the body somewhat. In this case, I was able to set my own schedule. Here's what I came up with:
Wake up around 8:00am, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and conversation with my hosts (staying with family in the area) until around 10:00, at which point I would do my morning shower routine.
About 10:30, I start going through the scores for the evening's program. I try to listen intently in my head to each phrase, also going back over passages to ensure that I know the analysis of each progression. This mental practice also helps me "feel" each note before I get to the piano.
Around 1:30 or 2:00 I get to the hall and start practicing, after chatting with the technician to discuss any issues with the instrument. From then until 5:00, I play each note of the program slowly, as "roundly and soundly" as possible, to create a solid "feel-mage" (William Westney's term) of each gesture. I start with the slower sections, then move into the faster sections and make sure I am using my technique appropriately to the instrument that I'm playing on that particular day. (The differences among pianos, particularly Steinways, are a topic for another time.) I end my practicing with the first thing that I play, in order to set up my brain for the start of the program.
From 5:00 until the 7:00 showtime, I have a light dinner, return to the hall around 6:15 and stay backstage as much as possible to quiet down and reach a calm state of mind before the concert. I don't play any more until the first note of the program.
Program done around 8:30, I return home, decompress for a while, fall asleep around 11 and do it again the next day!
So, that's my current "ideal" - what is your idea of a perfect concert day? I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments.