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A more commercial tune
Roger Press, 40, has changed his career path in the opposite direction. After spending five years as a concert pianist, he has gone into business, recently setting up his own company.
After leaving university I decided to work seriously as a pianist. I loved the music and performing, but it was hard work. I played at concerts in Europe and America, appeared at the Wigmore Hall, made recordings and got reviewed. But after a while I felt I had gone as far as I could. Unless you’re one of the world’s top 20 pianists, it’s difficult to make a living, and I wasn’t one of the greatest.
I have also always thought that it’s important to be commercial, to participate and compete in the modern world. So although moving on was a difficult decision, having reached it I felt relieved in many ways.
When I gave up my career as a pianist, people around me were more sad and disappointed than I was. Friends said: «It’s going to be terrible — how will your life develop?» But I felt free and at last I knew I was getting serious about life.
After getting an MBA I joined EMI and started their classical video division, producing programmes about famous artists. I then went to work for Polygram, in a similar field, and a year ago I formed my own company, New Media Systems, which specialises in multimedia programs.
People might think it strange that I’ve given up the sort of lifestyle many of them would aspire to. But I think it was easier for me to go from something creative into a regular work environment. I don’t envy people who do it the other way round.
With my own company I am in control of my life. Although the stress is high and the hours long, the stress involved in piano playing was much worse. It took physical, emotional and mental skills. I prefer the pressures I live with now.
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Roger Press, 40, has (А22) … his career. After (A23) … five years as a concert pianist he has gone into business, recently (A24) … up his own company. I have always thought that it’s important to be commercial, to participate and compete in the modern world. So although moving on was a difficult decision, having (A25) … it I felt relieved in many ways. When I (A26)… up my performing career, people around me were more sad and disappointed than I was. But I felt free and at last I knew I was getting serious about life.
After getting a qualification in business administration I (A27) … the recording company EMI and started producing programmes about famous artists. A year ago I left EMI and formed a new company, New Media Systems, which(A28)… in multimedia programmes. Now that I (A29) … my own business I am in control of my life and I can feel(A30)… of my achievements. Although the stress is high and I work (A31)… hours, the stress involved in piano playing was much worse. It took physical, emotional and mental skills. I prefer the pressures I live with now.’
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The first impressions are rather menacing. Visitors must sign in and show identification before being allowed into the building. (A43) _____ . But what a deceptive first impression! Manhattan Comprehensive Night High School may be the friendliest, most caring institution in all of New York City. A school of last resort for many of its students, it is their best chance to turn their lives around, and make friends in the process. (A44) _____ .
High school is compulsory until the age of sixteen in America, but many students drop out, either before or after they reach sixteen, and before receiving their high school diplomas. Until now, night education programmes for dropouts only provided the basics and then awarded an equivalency certificate. (A45) _____ . The students receive an academic diploma, which they say is more helpful in getting a job than an equivalency certificate. More than sixty percent of Manhattan Comp’s students go on to college.
Most of the school’s 450 students have either been expelled from or dropped out of other high schools. (A46) _____ .
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§1. “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts.” People who get on in life may be successful not because they deserve it, but because of influential friends or the right background. We say “Ah yes, he must have gone to the right school”, or “She must come from a good family.” We may suspect that some people in positions of authority are there because they belong to the right group or party. To get something done – a signature on a document, or a quick decision – it helps to know someone “on the inside”. At least, this is the widespread belief.
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§1. Most people believe that being famous is a broadly desirable state – one that often brings power, attention and wealth. Fame looks like a condition which one might dream of. However, the film director Nigel Cole tells an anecdote that puts a rather different perspective on fame.
§2. Cole had made a documentary about the wild horses that move around the remote plains ofMongolia, which was presented by Julia Roberts, the world’s most famous film actress. For the documentary, she had spent a fortnight living there with a family of horse herders. Roberts, who travels light when the occasion demands, arrived in warm, casual clothes without make-up, carrying one bag. Shooting on the film began. But soon the head of the family complained to Cole that a joke was being played on him. He had seen a video of Roberts’ film Pretty Woman, and this casually dressed woman did not fit the image he had in his head. ‘Apparently, Julia was not glamorous enough to be famous,’ says Cole.
§3. How strange is fame of that order! How hard it must be to inhabit a world in which you are under constant public examination for weight gain or loss, or mere flashes of bad temper. You are surrounded by people who may not “necessarily be your friends, but whose livelihood depends on you; you are a profit centre, so no one wants to get on the “wrong side of you. As a result, fame can engender distrust and isolation, meaning that nobody can be taken at face value.