Played a charity benefit last night, some chamber music with a few other people from the orchestra. The piece I was most looking forward to was Mozetich's Duet in Blue for flute and bassoon, a cute little postmodern thing. It's not too hard, Mozetich describes it as a "pedagogical piece of medium difficulty". Done well it's a nice treat, and we'd spent some time practicing and rehearsing it, so I had high expectations. We were amplified, and all was fine during the sound check. Then when we actually got on stage, I was terrified. I made a number of brain mistakes, miscounting, or counting correctly but deciding that I was off and not coming in, then having to figure out how to get back on while continuing to play. Terrible. The audience doesn't know the piece, so they don't know when we're supposed to be together, and when we're supposed to be alternating, and any discordance might be written off as "modern" (even though the actual piece is totally tonal), but still, the piece sounds much better when played as written.
I'm not entirely sure what happened. The performing environment is much different from the practice one, and I think has a lot to do with it. In rehearsal, we sit down, chat, get everything sorted out, talk about what tempo we're going to do; then stop, relax and prepare, and then and only then, enter. To go from that to this performance, where I'd spent the previous 20 minutes standing uncomfortably in the blackness of offstage, listening to a series of fabulous performances including a trio of professional tenors right before us, who bring down the house. Then the MC announces us, we walk on into bright lights with the audience in blackness, I trip and nearly fall on a piece of electronics left on the stage, sit down, and start to try to get all my gear sorted out... By the time the rest of the quartet has already tuned, I don't have my reed on, and the delay between the two acts has already stretched longer than is really comfortable (or so it seems, in my panicking brain). I pip one note, look at the flutist, and start the piece, totally not in the right head space. Maybe it's no surprise what happened.