I had a truly horrible rehearsal on Wednesday night.
I’d even practiced that morning. I’d gone through the evil Minuet & Trio from Beethoven’s First Symphony and some of the nasty shifts from the first movement too, and I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Then I got to rehearsal and we began with the Rossini overture, and the substitute director took it at a really fast clip. I lost it. I ended up just sitting and staring at the music, unable to grab an anchor point to pick up again and be in the same place as everyone else.
It got worse: we then moved to the Bizet. (Remember? The tenor clef? The treble clef?) Any progess I’d made on this piece left me, bags and all. They even slammed the door.
It was around this point that I realised the next concert is only four weeks away.
Then we moved to the Beethoven, which should have been my best performance of the night. I was so rattled by this point, though, that I spent a lot of time feeling rather nauseous, staring at the score again, miserable.
I have absolutely no emotional connection to this music. The Mozart symphony we’re doing is easy for me, because it’s so beautiful, so lyrical. These other pieces are technically challenging and very difficult to make sound easy, which is important. Music should sound effortless. Since I have no emotional connection to them (other than the sinking feeling I get when I look at them, which is probably classified by a large percentage of the population as “negative”!) it’s hard to make them sound pretty, let alone care about getting the notes right.
So, I bought a new set of earphones, and batteries for my Walkman, and I’ll just listen to it all over and over until I can sing it in my sleep. That will help.
I was really down Wednesday night when I went home, and Thursday morning wasn’t much better. On the way to work, though, I heard a terrific recording of the overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni by Tafelmusik on CBC Radio Two, and suddenly, I was reminded why I play the cello, why I joined the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra, and why music is so important to me. When I got to work, I dashed off a quick e-mail to the show’s host Tom Allen, thanking him for helping me out. He e-mailed me later in the day to say that he was “glad to hear your musical cloud has lifted” and telling me to “keep the faith”.
I’m looking forward to working on my music this summer. It’s a pity that my concert will be over just as my time off begins, so I won’t be able to devote the time I’d like to preparing for it, but I’ll choose a piece to really polish up to feel good about before orchestra starts up again next fall.
Music is such a gloriously emotional thing, and it brings such a variety of people together to perform and experience it. I don’t know who invented it, but I think I’d like to shake their hand.
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, which is about a woman returning anonymously to her native village in France to open a restaurant in the house she grew up in. It’s two stories simultaneously: the modern storyline, and the story of when this main character was growing up sixty-odd years ago in German-occupied France. I’m enjoying the war storyline more; the modern story is about her weak nephew and his desperate, food-snobby wife trying to steal her mother’s recipe book to help their own ailing high-class restaurant, which the protagonist has discovered is also a kind of diary in code which her mother kept during the war. I find the modern antagonists pretty lame, although I love the recipe book/journal aspect of it. Harris uses food and wine as a metaphor for everything her characters can’t actually come out and say in all her books; it’s an interesting trope, but it’s becoming predictable.
This is the third Harris novel I’ve read; the first two were Chocolat and Blackberry Wine. So far, Chocolat is still my favourite. Jury’s still out as to where Five Quarters will fall.