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Performers also work extra holiday hours: Joseph Johnson, cellist

Performers also work extra holiday hours: Joseph Johnson, cellist featured image

Monday, December 4, 2017

During the hectic holiday season, people in the service industry work longer hours: courier drivers, retail workers, and airline staff – but we don’t think about the performers who also put in extra hours entertaining us. Curious, I approached a few of them about how they get through the holidays without strain. Five-part series all this week.

1/5: Joseph Johnson
Principal Cello, Toronto Symphony
Assistant Professor of Cello, University of Toronto

Q: The holidays can be a lot of fun for the fans who love to be entertained – but it’s a lot of fatigue for the performers. What is the hardest thing about performing over the holidays? Be honest.
A: The hardest thing about performing over the holidays is making sure I know which music I’m playing on which day. The amount of different rehearsals and concerts we do is staggering, and I’m always looking at my schedule to make sure I know what I’m rehearsing/performing the next day.

Q: What is the best thing about performing over the holidays?
A: I love looking in the audience around the holidays and seeing families together. People are happy. The ugly Christmas sweaters. Audience members are more chatty and relaxed. It’s a great time of the season.

Q: How do you de-stress during the month of December?
A: To be honest, the holidays are the least stressful – I usually don’t have any big solo concerts (although this year I’m playing Rococo Variations the first week of December with TSO); the repertoire is fun and not overly difficult, and classes at U of T is winding down for the break.

Q: What do you look forward to most when you’re done the last holiday performance?
A: I’m still lucky in that everyone in my family is still here, so I really look forward to spending time with my parents and my brother. Lately we have been spending Christmas and New Years in Hawaii, so that’s definitely something to look forward to!

Tomorrow: Noel Edison, Artistic Director of Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Elora Singers.

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