In a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall, I gave the London premiere of Entranced by Mark-Anthony Turnage. It’s a fantastic piano piece, rooted in American gospel music by way of Duke Ellington. I spoke with Sally Groves at Schott Music in advance. Mark was traveling back to London on the day of my concert. He would arrive in plenty of time to hear his piece.
The concert went well. Though I didn’t play Mark’s piece quite as well as I wished, it was ok, even good. After taking one bow, I saw Mark in the audience and gestured for him to stand. He did not. (Following a performance, the composer of a piece is usually acknowledged.)
I was confused and I started to feel embarrassed. Was Mark so displeased by my playing that he didn’t want to receive the applause of the crowd? I returned to the stage, took another bow, and pointed toward Mark again. He was sitting in the center of the concert hall and wearing his unmistakable spectacles. He looked uncomfortable, shifting around in his seat. And again, he refused to stand and be applauded.
Back in the dressing room, during the interval (intermission), I was pondering. In came Sally Groves. “So sorry,” she said, “Mark missed the train and didn’t get here at all. We’re so sorry he didn’t hear the performance. You were brilliant!”
Suddenly, I realized why the guy in the glasses looked so uncomfortable. I was pointing and gesturing repeatedly at a random audience member. No wonder he didn’t stand, no wonder he squirmed.
In later years, Mark withdrew Entranced from distribution. I wish he’d heard the concert.