Jeffrey Kahane, pianist and conductor

Pianist Jeffrey Kahane led the Bard College Conservatory Orchestra in Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto yesterday.

I sat in the second row with my watercolor pencils at the ready. Because I was so close to the stage, there were no other audience members around me, and there was enough spillover stage light to see my sketchbook.

I sharpened up three water-soluble colored pencils: ochre, brown (really red-brown), and black, and also had the black and clear water brushes ready. The decision what to hold in your off-hand is crucial, because you can't fish around once the music starts.

Jeffrey Kahane, pianist and conductor

Mr. Kahane was in constant motion, acting both as soloist and conductor, directing the orchestra from the keyboard.

I watched him without drawing for the first five minutes to look for characteristic poses. In keeping with Beethoven, his poses went from fiery to lyrical to explosive to vulnerable. The most typical pose was with the head thrown back and the left hand up.

Once I decided on that pose, I had to commit to it entirely, even though I would only see it again in glimpses.

I don't usually touch up sketches at home, but I was dying to use a few dabs of white gouache to define the front planes of his face, plus a few white scratches with a knife to suggest the hair over the collar. This detail is the size of a postage stamp or an SD card.

MediaCaran D'Ache watercolor pencilsMoleskine Watercolor NotebookNiji water brush filled with fountain pen ink. Lettering with Waterman fountain pen.

More about the performance last night and the Bard Conservatory.
Wikipedia on Jeffrey Kahane. Watch him play a little Mozart in this video clip.

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