the greeting 5:43 – 6:01 min


followed by the song Die Sennin [The Maiden] by Robert Schumann


“Good evening, we’re so excited to be here, but I’m gonna talk later, sing first.


(mathias is having trouble with his stage light, I’m working on my mic stand. Hans is waving to the stage lights for the pianist)


You don’t see it? Ah okay now he sees - oh that’s good for me, that’s good for all of us, I hope!”


I’m making small jokes, releasing tension. I’m nervous, excited and I’m trying to read the room for first reactions while at the same wanting to make a good first impression.


After playing our first song of the set by Robert Schumann Die Sennin [The Maiden]. I start off with hvala – thank you in Slovenian. In general, when seeing myself talking on stage I always feel a bit too eager to connect, too eager to get everything under control and get the atmosphere in the room where I feel everybody is pleased. These needs bring me to the studies of the psychotherapist and psychotherapeutic researcher Klaus Grawe. He formulates four main needs that influence and determine human behavior. These needs (Grundbedürfnisse)*, according to him, lay the foundation for our behaviour and our actions. The needs (Grundbedürfnisse) are co-equal and do not appear hierarchical.


Bindungsbedürfnis = the need to build connections and relationships, establishing relationships


Bedürfnis nach Orientierung und Kontrolle = the need for orientation and control

As in a need to understand the world, the direction of where we as a whole but also as individuals are going to, the need to feel able to decide on direction and goals.


Bedürfnis nach Lustgewinn und Unlustvermeidung = the need for positive stimuli and the need to avoid unpleasant, difficult experiences. With this need Grawe describes the tendency to increase positive, pleasant feelings, experiences through avoiding umcomfortable perveived conditions.


Bedürfnis nach Selbstwerterhöhung – the need for building self-esteem and protection of our core calues and structures.

We circle around protection of our self and self-esteem, we tend to protect what we feel is valuable to us and what we feel gives a value


As I watched myself talking on stage – I could, for example, observe my need to establish and build a connection by making small jokes in the beginning. By doing so, I want so seem approachable, I want to build a relationship with the audience. Through it I’m gaining control because it helps me to read the room and to predict or understand reactions, which again attends to the need of building my self-esteem in order to feel comfortable and so on.

Each of us deals with different streams of thoughts, inner monologues and doubts that appear in one’s mind on stage connected to their own insecurities. I see myself compensating my insecurities and the pressure of silence by trying to make everybody comfortable. If I’m keeping Grawe’s needs in mind I might say that it has to do with my need to gain some sort of control in a situation where I feel vulnerable and responsible. It is the feeling of being responsible that pushes the trigger for my need to gain control because if I’m responsible it means that I can be held accountable of how the evening, how the reactions of the audience turn out. This is making me feel insecure, which brings me to a gesture that I perform almost every time during a concert.


a singer’s shoes -  10:27-11:33 min


followed by the song Die Nebensonnen [Phantom Suns] by Franz Schubert


(I’m trying to change the position of the mic stand, fidgeting around, then taking off my shoes instead)


“Hvala! Sorry, no, I’m gonna lose the shoes then I don’t have to…” (I choose to take my heels off instead of changing the position of the microphone).


“Good evening, ah we’re, as I said, we’re really excited… yeah it’s smarter than to work you know… to be here… …this was a song by Robert Schumann, mathias arranged the songs. We’ve been working on this like I don’t know, we talked about it today, we’ve been working together for like at least for 8 or 9 years - this whole journey through these Kunstlieder into songs. And because it’s so good to play in times like these, where you never know how often you get to play again that I will just gonna continue singing and we get to know each other better during singing, while singing, and I share stories in between, I promise! But I just wanna keep on playing now, if it’s okay.

Let’s go with a song by Schubert from the Winterreise, Winter’s Journey. I’m sure some of you know it, some of you might even love it...ahm... It’s called the Phantom suns it’s about an optical illusion and you have the feeling that there are three suns on the horizon.”


With the first announcement I swiftly introduce what it is that we’re playing, who wrote the music, who arranged it, how long we’ve been working on it and how I feel about playing it right here, right now, mentioning the current situation (of lockdowns due to Covid 19), saying that we’ll get to know each other better trough the music “during singing, while singing”.


I chose to take off my shoes because in my experience, whenever I took off my heels, the audience usually strongly reacts to that. Sometimes the audience would even clap when I did it and I usually “save” that moment for later in the set, in case I want or need to bring this gesture to evoke its reaction. I’m aiming for a reaction. I have the impression, that the audience is amused by it, finds it somewhat nonchalant, somewhat approachable and in a weird way I always have the feeling it gets me closer to the audience. Which now already makes me ponder about why I want that, since some performers would prefer the opposite. By taking off my shoes, I want to establish trust because to me it represents a gesture of being down-to earth, quite literally, my feet are visibly touching the ground. I want to build trust by de-constructing the barrier of the possible prejudice I’m facing being a dressed up, arrogant singer. Through showing something so private, something I usually do in the realm of my home, on stage, I want to create  a moment of intimacy and with that build connection. At the time I started doing it, I was not aware of why I would do it, and why I would keep repeating this action at certain moments in the set. But what I now realize is that it also transforms my status. The stage itself and walking out onto the stage, dressed in high heels, being introduced before walking out, all suggests a high status which makes me uncomfortable in a way, vulnerable. It was an impulse, that I followed and that I now reflect upon, which makes me realize how much of my persona on stage is led by the tendency to build trust, establish connections and relationships with the audience, but also how much the audience is also influencing what stories I choose to tell. My core-audience is between 35 – 80 and I wonder if I would have used the same gesture, if my core audience would have been 16 – 35? I’m pretty sure my whole performance and my way of performing would be different. I’m pretty sure that the “shoe”-moment would not work as well or would land completely differently in front of teenagers. Every action we perform, every thing we say is attached to the context, is being dependet on the context to be able to gain meaning and to be able to function. If for example I would take off my shoes in front of children between 5 and 10 they might not know the context I’m refering to and what it means for me take off my shoes. They might be used to taking off their shoes when they go to kindergarden or seeing their teacher in socks when they sing songs in a circle.In short for this gesture to work, I have to display it within an understanding of what the gesture represents. As I described in Between the signs our horizon of understanding is constantly changing. So to be able for an audience to decipher my intentions of meaning when I take off my shoes, I’m assuming that “we” the audience and I share the same interpretations of the meaning of the “shoe” gesture. 


In the past months it started to bother me. Mainly for two reasons: the first is, that shoes in general have been a topic that appear in comments after a concert. I often get asked why I wear heels and if it is difficult to sing in heels or if they hurt my toes. I feel it shifts the focus to what I wear, why I wear what I wear and invites judgement about my appearance. Through “using” this gesture I’m leading the attention again to the shoes and by that reinforcing questions I want to escape .



two roles – one performance 14:42 – 15:46


followed by the song Erstes Grün [First Green] by Robert Schumann


“I’ve never been to Ljubljana…I already start talking…it’s so beautiful. We were talking about that we’re really looking forward to Slovenian beer after the concert – is that allowed to say?...cause I think it’s really good, it’s supposed to be really good and as Austrians we really like the beer…talking again too much…more about Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. Let’s stick to Schumann, this song is about friendship, it’s called “My friend, my shade, my guard”…oh no we’re gonna play “First Green” first. It’s a song about when you’re feeling lost, heartbroken, alone but sometimes when you walk into nature and even though you are alone within nature, surrounded by nature you don’t feel lonely anymore and you start to feel hopeful because there is so much green surrounding you.”


What comes to mind when I see myself asking questions such as “Is it allowed to say?” is how much I shift into a more private Julia. Through asking if something is allowed to say, I put myself into a position that is somewhat childlike. This position has much more to do with the role I carry within my family than with Julia or Lia, the professional singer. Our percussionist often gives me feedback that when I talk, I should stick to the music we are about to perform. She feels that the way I talk sometimes undermines, undercuts the performance of the music, could she be referring to the difference between Julia the private person and Lia the singer? As I understand it, she feels that the more private I behave on stage the more it takes the feeling of the “professional” concert setting away which is giving our music the platform of being listened to in a way that automatically attaches value to the music. The tradition of Liederabend and the value and seriousness that it carries crashes with my private behavior and with it putting the music in a different context. Frank Sinatra, for example, during his Tea-Break monologue tells personal anecdotes as well but he still keeps a certain distance, he doesn’t get too private, he for sure would not take off his shoes, or his jacket. He never leaves his role as the professional singer and entertainer, he is not suddenly Sinatra, my friend who is also insecure and nervous. I wonder what it would feel like to not take my shoes off.


getting used to talking Julia 19:12-20:16 min


Followed by Ich grolle nicht [I don’t complain] by Robert Schumann 


“Another love song by Schumann…he dedicated his Liederbuch to Clara Wieck, to his wife. …it’s just I love those songs and the next one is one of all time favourites it’s called “Ich grolle nicht” – it’s about a broken heart and then you see that the other one is suffering the same, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re the one leaving or the one being left, you are both sad that you couldn’t go somewhere together, You let go, you stop complain, you’re in this together even though you are apart. (hand gesture going from the inside out as if dividing something) – stopping then pointing a finger at mathias.

“mathias thinks that the Beatles knew this song, especially the first few bars and they used it. So they were big Schumann fans, I’m thinking he’s probably right but…you decide.

(reaching for the flute to start the intro)


Why do I say what I say? What am I thinking while I speak. In general, I get the feeling that I’m mainly shifting between two roles and that there is a big difference between the role of Julia, the private person on stage and Julia or Lia the singer on stage. Do I want that or is that something I simply can’t get out of? On what level do I choose my structures, the patterns, that I perform as Julia, the private person or as Lia, the singer and that keep influencing the way I talk and communicate and also show where I come from. For example my accent in English, which I cannot quite choose, it is hard for me to “unlearn” but when I talk in German I feel more safe using the dialect of my hometown also on stage. So I make a choice to speak as private Julia when I share thoughts, tell anecdotes or introduce the next song. I’m sure it would make a big difference if I decided to speak “Hochdeutsch” in German and with it establishing a somewhat professional distance.


shifting roles of my colleague 24:03 – 25:29 min


followed by Widmung [Dedication] by Robert Schumann


“Vielen Dank! Hans Strrrrasser! And also, Hans is playing not with his own bass, he has like an army of basses. He is married to all of them, it’s like a harem. It’s not so easy for his wife to be surrounded by so many other ladies but when he meets a new one (pointing at the bass) they always start talking and after a while they just…you know…get along. This is Hans and his bass stories. 

So now the Widmung …can we do “Dedication”?... that I promised before already. Maybe I’m just thinking about all these love songs because you can never have enough love songs I guess and this is another one. It’s called dedication…and Schumann (I pause)…it’s the first songs in the whole book of his songs…it’s the first song and above it, it says everything is dedicated to Clara. So it’s…you know…a big big big love song”


I feel a bit embarrassed about this announcement. I wanted to bring the attention to the fact that Hans Strasser, the bass player, is not playing this concert with one of his own instruments but with a borrowed instrument, which can be quite a challenge. So, I wanted to show how well he is dealing with an instrument he barely knows. But now watching and re-watching it, I realize that I use the “shifting into private Julia mode” and put it onto Hans. I now realize by telling this story, mentioning his wife, I shift Hans from Hans Strasser the bass player to private Hans. I never realized that. Hans is someone the audience always reacts strongly to, after his soli he always gets immediate and strong feedback and I often jump on to that feedback to further strengthen it by putting him even more in the spotlight. I want to make sure Hans is approachable to the audience. I usually don’t ask the musicians on stage direct questions, or encourage them to talk, but now that I think about it, I probably should do it more and I would very much want to know what would happen if I do. I only sometimes ask direct questions to mathias, the pianist; as he is the arranger and I want to establish that fact through asking him questions about his arrangements or sharing background stories about his process. He is always to my right on stage, and sometimes he just starts talking pushing me to directly react. Now I see that I usually tend to putting the spotlight onto the musicians when before or after they are also featured with a solo part in the music. I try to build my talking around their “spotlight” moment in the music expanding it to the moments between, before or after the song.


talking to a friend 29:14 – 30:18 min


followed by the song Sagt mir o schönste Schäfrin mein  [O tell me my sweet shepherdess] by Johannes Brahms


Hvala…Thank you. [taking Brahms Liederbuch and putting it in front my notestand] we are… I think we haven’t played a Brahms piece, it’s the first in the setlist and it’s about a shepherdess…the person who works with sheep. Is that the word…shepherd, shepherdess, I think so. And she has this little nice house and then in the night comes the shepherd and he knocks at her door [lift my hand and I make a fist knocking on an invisible door] and he’s like: Can I come in? I won’t do anything, I’m such a good guy, lalalala [I wave my hands, roll my eyes]. And she says “No, no, no, I’ve only had trouble with this!” And it goes on for like six or more verses, I only sing the first three, but it’s like endless the poem and then in the end: She opens door [soft laughter in the room]. This is the song about the shepherdess and the knocking on the door, you hear that resembled  [turning to the percussionist] in Ingrid’s cajon solo.


As I watch myself telling the story about the shepherdess, gesturing, rolling my eyes, I feel that I start to enjoy the talking performer Julia for the first time in the set. I still feel that I’m becoming private Julia, but slightly different. It seems to me as if I’m talking to a friend over a cup of coffee or being in a social gathering having a glass of wine, telling stories, hanging out. For this song I feel it is a conscious choice, it didn’t happen because I felt uncomfortable, I chose to share this poem in an ironic and light way to prepare the atmosphere for the mood of the song.  


getting to know the audience – the audience getting to know me 33:58 – 34:55 min


Followed by the song Heidenröslein [Little Red Rose by Johannes Brahms]


mathias asking Hans [not audible for the audience]: Did you come in one bar too early? Hans answering, “no, no…I don’t think so”  [I laugh and put my flute down, turning to Ingrid and the audience] Ingrid Oberkanins! [mathias and Hans keep discussing in the background; I take a bottle of water and while I open it, I continue talking we really like the word for percussion here, it’s called “Tolkala” no? [waiting for a response] the sound is in the word already of what she does. There are so many words we have to bring back [checking my setlist and coming back to the microphone] we stick with Brahms now and his version of “Heidenröslein”. If you go to school in Austria you have to learn this and study this, say it. Schubert has written a very famous version of it. But Brahms also composed music to it, but it’s not that famous but it’s as beautiful and that’s why we chose the more unknown one [taking a sip of water while the piano intro starts].


On average I talk about 1 minute in between songs and it surprises me because I always have the feeling that I talk much more. But with let’s say between 16-18 songs, this is a total of 16-18 min performing talking. In Frank Sinatra’s live concert from 1966 “At the sands”, he goes about it the other way around. He almost says nothing between the songs and then takes approximately 12 - 16 min midway through his set for his monologue, called Tea Break (as described in the chapter In-Between on stage). He chose to take a certain moment, one long space instead of many short spaces, to perform talking, he makes a distinction between performing music and performing talking and with his monologue he sets these boundaries very clearly. I weave one minute in between each song which in total amount talking-time is about the same but the way it is integrated is very different. I can’t imagine how it would feel to talk for 16 minutes in one piece. It would be something I would be interested to do.


By now I feel more and more comfortable and able to read the room, getting to know the feedback and reactions. I feel more in control of what I want to say before a song and how I want it to be prepared. The shifting into private Julia is still happening but I feel it in a less tense manner. The room feels smaller, I feel we all arrived in the space and gotten to know each other through I would say the act of spending time together. Being with and next to each other in the same space, sharing experiencing music, sometimes sharing laughter, sometimes moments of silence. We spent time together and shared time and space while constantly interpreting what is happening around us. The feeling of getting to know the audience and the situation we are in, is calming me down, making me more and more relaxed. And through that I feel a connection evolving between us as musicians, me, the audience, the room.


Every musician knows this feeling when we watch ourselves being on stage. Is this how I move? Is this how I speak? Why do I move and speak like that?

As I described in the previous chapter, when I perform my lieder/songs, I move, speak, and even dance but when I first started out performing these lieder/songs on stage, I had to write down single sentences that I learned by heart like a script to be able to say something in-between songs. I needed to, I needed something to hold on to. Because I was much more scared of talking on stage than of singing and it was more difficult for me to talk between songs than to sing the songs. In the open space between the songs, I felt exposed and had to face the question, 'who am I on stage when not singing?'

With time I got more comfortable on stage and I started to perform talking in the space between songs and sometimes, during performances, moments occurred when, before or after a song or lied, I shared somewhat personal stories, experiences, thoughts that would lead to a heightened awareness within the audience, a moment of connection. I believe it had a lot to do with the relationship that developed during a concert between the audience and myself and I could feel the atmosphere or even the focus towards the lieder/songs shift. Suddenly it didn’t seem so important anymore what I was playing or if I was allowed to sing a Schubert song the way I did, suddenly it became about what I was performing throughin- and outside of the lied, the song, the score, the repertoire.

If we perform more than our music, our chosen body of work and communicate with, through, and beyond the music, what do we perform when just 'being' on stage? In this chapter I look at what do I do or say on stage when I am not playing, my way of performing talking between the lieder/songs. How do I fill the open space between a piece of music and the next? What am I thinking about when I talk? Why do I mention certain things, perform certain gestures  and so forth. This analysis is done based on a live recording of the Great European Song Book* in Ljubljana on November 21st 2021 as part of the Jazz Ars All Star Series. In the concert, I performed lieder/songs by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms.



 What happens in the open space between one piece of music and another, what do I perform - my self(s)

sound of silence - 38:07 – 38:32 min


followed by Ich hab im Traum geweinet [In my dreams I’ve been crying] by Robert Schumann


It is the only time during the whole concert where I do not speak before I sing.


(I take a sip of water, mathias plays a bflat on the piano, I take the eggshakers from the little table and walk up to the microphone. I look at mathias and Ingrid to make sure everybody is ready.) This song starts a capella with just the shakers. I chose to stay silent, to prepare myself to focus on the notes and lines I’m about to sing. It is always very hard for me to hold the pressure silence, letting it take up the space but now looking at it, it seems so easy, almost relaxing not to speak. And there is so much that speaks for me. The preparations, the humming, the sound of the bflat, the eye contact between us onstage.


I usually move around a lot, more or less fast paced between the mic stand, the piano, the bass player behind me and the soloist to my left. It is an oval shape in which I move. The water bottle(s) stands on the floor or on the table next to the piano that holds my percussion instruments and setlist. To drink is a gesture I keep repeating. It is something that gives me a familiar feeling because through it I gain moments to think about what I’m doing, what comes next and what I want to say, or think I should say and so on. A moment where I can tend to myself. I get hot and sweat on stage and through singing and talking my mouth gets dry and I need to take a sip of water. I realize now that it is part of almost every performance.


One rule I learned in Acting Improv Classes comes to mind now: “Never talk about the activity, never talk about what you are doing right now, as it is already visible and let’s face it we’re not in a cooking show.” Establishling relationships can happen with or without words.  And looking at this moment now, I feel that the establishing of a relationship with the audience is happening regardless of me talking or not talking. 

I close my eyes for a moment, keep my head turned towards Ingrid, who will give me our tempo, we’re starting together, I feel the shakers between my hands, I move my hands up to my forehead, concentrating, gathering myself. I turn towards the audience, Ingrid starts playing and I start singing.

By going through these movements of preparations, I also tell a story, the story of my way of focusing on the music. It is not that one thing is better than the other, it is a different way of connecting and I think now that I shouldn’t be afraid of speaking without talking.



different private Julia - 41:27- 42:48 min


Followed by the song Der Wegweiser [Road Of No Return] by Franz Schubert


Ingrid Oberkanins an der Tarabuka! The next song is by Schubert, and it was one of the very first that I ever sang regarding Schubert songs. When I… you know… was studying in Vienna and in Sweden, I was more in the electro-pop scene (pausing a bit remembering, thinking) and this was the first song that took me…(I stop, then I look at mathias, he starts to imitate the way I played keyboards and I start laughing) yes I played the keyboard and I went like this (miming playing the keyboard while dancing). There are videos on there, I think… I mean I don’t know…aahm but then I found this repertoire or the repertoire found me in a way and it took me a while to find myself in the journey of Schubert but once I did (I pause) it became like a home and still is and I always get kind of sentimental when I sing one of these songs that kind of changed my artistic path in a way (I’m moved, talking slower) and shaped me as a musician as a singer. So this is one of them, that you’re gonna hear now, it’s called the “Road of no Return”. It’s about knowing that there is this one bridge everybody has to take where there is no way back.


During this monologue my body language changes. After the “miming playing the keyboard” moment I start to become calmer, I move my hands a bit less and start talking slower, taking more time in between phrases, it seems to me that I incorporate the steadiness of singing Lia’s body language into the talking of private Julia. Private Julia is fast paced, dynamic, singing Lia is more steady in her movements, more grounded in a way. And I like it. It seems to me more professional and at the same time open. I don’t see myself in the girl-next -door, happy-go-lucky private Julia role in that moment, I'm still private, but in a different way. I’m opening up by sharing personal experiences that have had an impact on me. It’s a different private Julia.

And although I shared something very specific regarding what this lied meant and means to me personally, it seems to me that it has a broader impact than if I would be talking about what the song is about. 



musical cross connection 46:27-47:22 min


followed by the song Morgens steh ich auf und frage  [In the morning by Robert Schumann


Thank you! We are coming to a Schumann song again. And I’m very sure that Nina Simone knew this song. You will soon hear why…later after Hans and I do our thing. Then you will hear it. She studied piano when she was four years old with a teacher and she knew all the classical stuff. She wasn’t allowed to go to the conservatory at that time…you all know what happened there…she found her own way and I love her so much. I am a huge fan and I’m pretty sure she knew this Schumann piece. Hans will demonstrate why.


I notice now that I almost never talk about music itself, as in musical structures, like what is happening in the arrangement compared to the original for example. I guess it is because I’m afraid that it could come across as teaching rather than sharing although I’m not sure where the difference lies. I think I don’t want to create a situation where the audience feels like they are being lectured or that they should know this or that to be able to understand music. It could be that I’m scared of rationalizing and with that risking to lose interest of the audience or pushing people away. Writing this down feels quite embarrassing but I think it is the reason why I rarely do it although it might be the total opposite and the audience would really want to know details like that about the music. The cross connection I’m describing here relates to Nina Simone’s My baby just cares for me and the bass line of the lied by Schumann we are about to play. They are very related in terms of harmonic functions and melody. I share this in the hopes that the audience gets curious and at the same time relaxes knowing that something familiar is coming their way. I want to give them a bridge into the song that they might be able to relate to. 

I should try it more often.


feeling responsible - 51:14 -  51:53 min


followed by Rote Abendwolken [Red Evening Cloudsby Johannes Brahms


“Hvala!I swear I can show you the notes afterwards, that this bassline is Schumann, I mean she maybe changed it a slight, tiny bit – rhythmically of course, but yeah… I think she knew this song. (I’m referring to the Lied Morgens steh ich auf und frage that in the left hand of the piano has a similar bassline as Nina Simone’s My baby just cares for me.)

Let’s go on with Brahms and another…I don’t what it is. mathias did this crazy arrangement where he switches in between…I don’t know…you’ll hear it.”


My introduction become shorter the more we are getting to the end of the setlist. Sometimes I think I don’t want to bother people and we have already played for a while, what if they get bored or it gets too long. I feel this pressure and tension again, almost like in the beginning of our concert. I want to keep them engaged so I speed up the tempo, I start to rush a bit, wanting to push forward taking the audience with me, not giving them time to think or get bored by continuing to talk, play and entertain. I feel responsible. Almost like the feeling of throwing a party when one feel’s responsible that everybody is having a good time. Is it my responsibility? Do I want to be made responsible for the audience being entertained? The constant commentary in my mind could be just projecting my fear of the possibility that somebody could be bored for no good reason. Because when I watch the performance I don’t get the feeling people are bored or that it feels long. Yet I can see myself putting pressure on myself to keep going, to push through, to not lose the focus of the audience. And when I think about myself as a listener, being in the audience, I don’t have the same level of focus and concentration throughout 70 or 80 min. It changes, it is like a wave, sometimes building up and then slowing down, sometimes the phases of intense engagement are longer, sometimes shorter. Why do I expect myself to be able to hold everybody’s focus level high all the time. 


prepared unrehearsed quotes - 54:58 – 57:38 min


followed by Ich will meine Seele tauchen [In a wonderful sweethour by Robert Schumann


Hvala!Thank you!It goes from here to there and then back to here to there. It’s fun to sing but we always feel a little bit…ahhhh (I shake my head left to right, waving my hands) hyped afterwards. There is one thing that I would like to share with you. I found, researching Brahms, Schumann and Schubert…I found these advices for life and music by Schumann and I tried to translate it in the train but I don’t know if they work in English. They love it in German and some people really laugh, but if it’s not working now, please don’t be…don’t laugh then.. 

And if there is akward silence let’s,… you know, go through it together. But its… if I wouldn’t share it with you, I would…you know…

Schumann gives advice regarding music:

“Don’t be afraid of music theory, contrapunct, basso continuo they will appear friendly in front of you if you do the same.” (I pause, waiting for a reaction)

Does that work? I think it works…because I was very scared of music theory for a long time, so this quote, I can very relate to. Alright, the next one…I don’t know if that will work.

“Behind mountains also live people” (giggling in the audience…I pause looking into the audience as if we are all deciding together, whether this is funny or not)…I mean it continues but I wanted to check the first line, how it is landing with you….

Ok so again “Behind mountains also live people. Be modest! You haven’t invented anything that others haven’t invented before you, and if you had, considered it a gift from above, that you should share with others.”

Pretty good I think…I shouldn’t say what I think…you should do it for yourself (mumbling) sorry.

So uh that’s one, I try this one:

“You should neither play bad composition nor, unless you’re forced to it, listen to them.”

Ok and then two more…sorry…

“You surely can learn some things from singers, but don’t believe everything they say.”

And the last one is by Brahms:

“If there is someone here in this room, whom I haven’t offended yet, I beg your pardon.”



Let’s do it!


I’m waiting for approval, laughter, reaction. I’m not sure if I chose to do so on purpose, I played with the idea that we are discovering these quotes together and that I don’t present it as a practiced set of punchlines that I’m sure will have an effect. Although I always include these quotes in this programme, and most of the time I know what quotes evoke laughter or amusement, I really wasn’t sure if the translations would work. What surprises me is how much I apologize before and between the quotes. Now that I think about it, again I’m lowering my status by apologizing, hoping the audience likes what I present or tell them. I was genuinely surprised to see myself apologizing so often. And then I suddenly stop, and we start to play. But the quotes have not a lot to do with the ballad that they were followed by and now I am thinking that I should have taken more time to lead back to the music or that I should have chosen a different spot for the quotes. Should I prepare for a ballad? .  I re-watched myself reading these quotes during another concert (Classix Festival in Kempten) in German and I don’t apologize as much, or at all. In general though, I am aware that in social situations I would call myself an “apologizer” and have been made aware of that quite often. To be honest, just recently, here in Los Angeles, where I’m doing an exchange semester at USC, I’m taking a class where we are not allowed to apologize, especially not before we’re about to share, play or sing something. And I realize through this class that I have had to stop myself quite often. During the concert in Kempten I also explain more about the quotes in between and how they relate to me, which creates more time to think about them and takes away the pressure.  I did choose a spot before a ballad again but through not apologizing and taking more time, the shift between funny quotes and a ballad becomes not that strong. I realize, that I choose the spot for the quotes when I feel I need something to hold on to between the songs and I do not think about what comes after, I think about what would help me in the moment.


This video is a live excerpt recorded by the festival Classix in Kempten (DE), where I performed The Great European Song Book; it is the moment of the concert where I read the same quotes, mentioned above, in German.

Same qotes performed in a different language in a different concert 

the encore ritual - 1:00:52 – 1:02:30 min


followed by Märzveilchen [Sweet Violetsby Robert Schumann


Stanislav Paluch, Ingrid Oberkanins, Hans Strasser, mathias rüegg! THANK YOU! Also to the technicians who helped us out all day! Thank you so much! Hvala!

Hvala!Thank you so much! Ah yeah, I told you, I have all night the train leaves tomorrow at 9:25… and we have a couple of…  although I do want the beer at some point…but let’s do it! It’s our crazy jazz polka mixture, Austrian roots you hear them in there…


(talking while playing) Thank you so much! Hvala! It has been an absolute pleasure! Stanislav Paluch, Ingrid Oberkanins, Hans Strasser, mathias rüegg! And YOU!


These are moments on stage that are similar to a ritual. Introductions of the band members while everybody is loosening up and I mention the beer again, once more returning to the role of private Julia. I’m announcing the first encore, I start to move around, dance, I talk louder. I’m not sure which Julia takes over now, it could be both or a third one. It is hard to say. The song is in a fast tempo, especially this version of that night and we all loosen up and it is clear that this in a different mood than the rest of the set. We all switch into the “encore-mode”. In every concert, in general, when the musicians walk out for the encore something shifts, a change in the level of tension, a change in body language – it is always clear that this is in a different mood, that sometimes is a bit dis-connected from the over-all mood of the performance, which at the same time makes it a highlight. The audience expects something different, something special, something intimate, something that gives them a closer look and maybe lets them feel even more included. For instance, it is a tradition at the New Year’s Concert in Vienna at the concert hall “Musikverein” to play the “Radetzky Marsch” as the encore of the concert. It is every year the same encore and every single time the conductor turns to the audience and invites them to clap along. The audience knows it, awaits it, expects it. The conductor indicates when they should clap piano and when forte. Within this encore the audience becomes part of the Vienna Philharmonics. The Philharmonics come closer, a connection is established through a joined musical collaboration. There is another moment that is significant and prepares this shift. Every New Year’s Concert there is the moment where the “Wiener Philharmoniker” get up and wish everybody: “Prosit Neujahr”. This moment is the only moment you would hear them speak and with it they shift into a more personal role. The encore carries a different set of rules, and the audience awaits the rules to change and the roles to shift.


Julia, who sings and talks - 1:06:22 – 1:06:53 min

followed by Mondnacht [Night of the moon] by Robert Schumann


(taking a bow) Yes! I know I said, that…already said a couple of times that this is my favourite in the programme but THIS is the real favourite. It’s true, I’m not gonna say this about any other that I’ve sang tonight. It’s “Mondnacht”.


(On the edge of the stage, right before, I go backstage, I say to the audience without the microphone) I’m gonna go to the beer now.


And I leave…I always choose this song as the last encore. It is a ballad, a duo, an intimate ballad, a song that calms me down. With it, the room gets quiet and so do I. 


The Band and I met at the bar, we sat together with the organizer and were introduced to their friends, who invited us to their home. We stayed out late. After a while private Julia takes over completely but the longer I think about it now, the more I wonder if maybe all these roles are just created by my stream of thoughts, my inner narrative, this self-conscious layer or inner voice that the American psychologist Steven C. Hayes refers to as the “Dictator within".*  What if there is only one Julia, the singing performer, who sings and talks and simply uses different restored bits of behaviors in different situations. Maybe there is no separation between the Julia(s) and maybe this is not even that important. There is one thing though, that I became aware of, which is this constant presence of a layer of self-consciousness accompanying me on stage, throughout this analysis and in my reflecting over this analysis. This layer is incessantly creating narratives of my life and my self on stage and off stage. I know this inner voice so well, how it comments on myself on stage but also how it comments on myself while commenting myself on stage. 

One of Hayes’ core hypothesis in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is that rather than trying to change the message of this inner "dictator", one should change the relationship to our thoughts rather than trying to change their content*. When I look at my analysis I feel that all I did was putting my “Dictator within” into writing, constantly judging and denigrating myself and my behaviour. “I am making small jokes, I’m nervous, I’m trying to release tension, I need to stop doing that, why am I doing this, and so forth?". The “I, I, I” in all those questions for Hayes becomes the “story of I”. 


Cognitive behavioural therapists like Hayes have put together collections of automatic and often negative thinking patterns. I found for instance a categorization of “cognitive distortions”* by David Burns, where I recognised my “Dictator Within” is mirrored in the following categories:


All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a failure.


Overgeneralization: You see a single negative observation as a never-ending pattern of defeat.


Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting that they “don’t count”.


Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check out whether this is true or not.


Emotional reasoning: you assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are.


Sometimes this self-conscious stream completely stops and when that happens, I feel the most comfortable. For example, before singing Der Wegweiser, when I shared with the audience how my artistic journey through Schubert’s Winterreise had shaped me as a singer, as well as the moment in which I didn’t speak but instead prepared the setup of Ich hab im Traum geweinet. I felt comfortable watching myself in these moments, because I have the feeling that I felt comfortable there and then – not commenting on myself, but being my self(s).


What would I do differently now if I had to performing the same lieder/songs?


I think I would take more time between songs without having the feeling that I must perform, do or say something. I would like to give myself permission to let go of the pressure of making everybody feel comfortable. I still would want to share anecdotes and stories but now I would probably more consciously define the way and the moment in which to tell specific stories. I think that the important thing is to not be afraid of the open space between the songs but rather to enjoy, expand and play with it. 


Who am I on stage when not singing?


While I still do not have an answer for this question, in fact, while I might never have a definitive answer, reflecting and theorising over the matter, analysing myself on stage raises my awareness for my presence on stage and makes me imagine possibilities beyond the/my already done and known.

concert of The Great European Song Book*, recorded live on November 21st 2021