Daily Archives: July 2, 2006

And Then Band! Plus More Sunday Schtuff

Jan’s new guitar is awesome.

So pretty. So versatile. So rich and mellow and prettyful. It really fills in some of the songs in our repertoire.

She has a new mandolin, too.

Of course, now I want in on the second (or third) instrument bandwagon, so I’m looking at things like this and this. Of course, one never buys an instrument through an online auction because one cannot test it, and one is stuck with it, and it always ends up costing more than one thinks it will. But these aren’t the ubiquitous Yamaha or Zeta silent/electric models, and I’d be interested in trying one out in order to get an idea of what they sound like. Not that I’ve tried the Yamahas or Zetas. There’s not much point in creating the opportunity for falling in love if I can’t buy one. It’s more sensible to avoid the potential altogether.

Last week’s rehearsal was phenomenal and everyone walked away happy; we did a lot of music-only work because our vocalist was out of town, and we ended up impressing ourselves with how on the music is most of the time. When the vocals are laid over it we listen to them instead, so we tend to miss how rich the musical lines underlying the voice are. Without the vocals to distract us we heard each instrument and learned exactly what everyone’s playing at any given time. Today we didn’t leave on such a high, but we got work done. We played some songs that we haven’t played for about a month, many which require vocals for timing, and they too were better than we expected them to be after so long away from them. And we worked our first original some more too, firming up the vocal/bass/guitar lines, which in turn will form the foundation for the sax, and soon we can add the percussion beat as well.

I came home tired but looking forward to our outing this afternoon, when we took Liam out to buy more fish! We talked to a staff member about water conditioner and additives too, so hopefully these three new fishy slaves will entertain the prince for a good long time.

While we were out we stopped off to feed some cats whose people are off holidaying, and while we were there Liam grabbed the handle of a little doll stroller and toddled off with it. He took a good six or so steps with my hands positioned an inch or two behind his back to catch him should he fall, but he did quite well on his own. It was very satisfying to watch him, particularly since he’s shown almost no interest in walking up to this point. He crawls like he’s in the Grand Prix; walking holding onto someone’s hands is just too slow for him when he can drop to all fours and race off on his own.

The day began early when a nurse stopped by to do our medical interview and sample-taking for our insurance application, and it’s now very definitely bedtime.

Canada Day Concert Redux

Everyone was just a bit out of synch in our house yesterday, which was a dreadful pity because not only were my parents in town for a single day, but it was Canada Day and thus my annual July 1 concert. (Why do we call an event that happens every year ‘annual’, but a plant that comes back every year a ‘perennial’? Messed me up for years, that did. I was very confused by the plants classified as annual that died in the fall and that was it, the end. But I digress.)

There were some transport negotiations concerning baby and husband and wife and cello and stroller; in the end, because I had to be there so early I got a lift with my parents on their way to dinner. This was in the interest of giving HRH and Liam some extra time at home before they had to pack up and go, otherwise they would have been kicking around for two hours before the concert even began, and that on top of an hour and a half of music way past someone’s bedtime would have been asking too much. In the end I don’t know how much good it did, because Liam, who had been off his feed and naps and people all day, got sick at the concert and HRH ended up having to remove him from the environment to allow him to refocus and eventually fall asleep. I think things might have been different if Liam had agreed to nap in the afternoon, and if something hadn’t upset his stomach. HRH, who was in an odd mood all day, was particularly upset about not being able to enjoy the evening because he’d been looking forward to it so much. As it was, he had to take Liam out of the church almost as soon as things began because Liam was overwhelmed by the number of people and frustrated because he couldn’t see anything. They sat outside to listen and keep one another company until Liam’s tummy pushed him over the edge and they decamped to the car for cleanup, a bottle, and an escape to oblivion for the baby.

Anywhats, apart from the husband and son missing the last half of the concert we’d all been looking forward to, things went wonderfully well. The symphony selections were tight, the Broadway medleys had the two hundred people-plus audience applauding before we’d even finished playing the final notes, and the Orpheus overture programmed as the finale indeed garnered the Brahms Hungarian dance encore we’d prepared last rehearsal. My intonation was all over the place, I flubbed some different super-simple stuff while doing better at some of the tricky bits than I’d ever done before; there was some creative fingering done on the fly by many of us, as well as some imaginative counting during a couple of the Broadway pieces; but they loved us, and we had fun. It was an excellent example of the audience not seeing the metaphorical duct tape holding things together. Not that there was much duct tape this time around; everything was remarkably tight. The Beethoven certainly was more precise than we’d ever managed to make it in rehearsal, and it started the proceedings off rather nicely.

It’s always fascinating to learn what pieces the audience enjoys most and compare it to the performers’ preferences. This time I’ve received more compliments on the Mozart than anything else, which is interesting because I thought it was rather forgettable as compared to the Beethoven. The Mozart was also the last symphonic selection before the Broadway and operetta pieces, so I wonder if that might have something to do with it. But overall, everyone enjoyed the whole program. And I think Karine‘s son liked it all in general too, because he decided he wanted to dance.

As I knew I’d have to walk through the village and down to the church instead of driving past the barricades with my pass and parking in the church lot (I’m a member of the band, you see, and membership hath its privileges), I brought my small folding black music stand in the place of my big solid stand that’s a joy to use but an awkward nightmare to carry. I certainly won’t be doing that again next year. It was very convenient to be able to fold it up and tuck it in my tote bag, but the wind off the lake going through the church made me worry about the stability of my music folder. As it was, when the breeze really kicked up two-thirds of the way through the evening the principal cellist and I scrambled for paper clips to make sure that we wouldn’t lose our sheets. Sometime this year I’ll sew a proper padded gig bag to fit my heavy orchestral stand and my accessories.

I wanted to stay afterwards with family and friends (the Baron and Baroness brought sangria! — er, I mean, they brought juice) but HRH sensibly pointed out that Liam really shouldn’t be anywhere near the fireworks after such a difficult day. So I said my goodbyes, thanked everyone for coming (and yes, I’ll do it again, see below), and off we went. It was a novelty to be able to drive directly out of the village without dealing with twenty-plus minutes of traffic after the fireworks. And even though we had to leave, we caught a few moments of two different displays of fireworks on the way home, so we got a little of one of the best bits of Canada Day celebration right at the end of the day nonetheless.

The turnout this year to the concert among my friends and family alone was incredible. (Eighteen this time, including two toddlers! This could very well be a record.) I say it every year, and after every concert, but it touches me deeply that people come out to support me and my ensembles, and I appreciate it so much. I was particularly amused by the fact that my entire band was there for my orchestra performance. That would never work the other way round; organising forty people to make it out to a band gig would be like herding cats. If they were even interested in the, um, eclecticism of a double bill like Invisible and Random Colour.

I remember thinking near the end of the Beethoven that I love playing with the band, but my first love is definitely working with an orchestral ensemble. I love them for different reasons, because they ask different things of me and my instrument, and they challenge me in very different ways. But I get caught up in orchestral performance the way I never do when gigging with the band. I get satisfaction out of working through an arrangement in band, and a certain complacent gratification presenting a song to an audience who doesn’t expect to hear what we play, but it doesn’t match the sense of success I feel when we bring an orchestral piece to a close. Band is smug (as long as it comes off well); orchestra is glorious. I can appreciate the orchestral music while being in the middle of it in a way that I can’t in band. It may be the sheer mass and texture of sound that surrounds me at orchestra, I don’t know.

All in all, another successful Canada Day concert. I know the audience is swelled by the passers-by who wander in at this concert, which partially accounts for the huge audience, and the fact that it’s free doesn’t hurt either, but I can’t help wishing that our regular season concerts had this sort of turnout. A large appreciative audience goes really far towards evoking excellent performance out of the orchestra. Playing to a sparse crowd is never the same. Ah, well. And this is the end of the season: we have the summer off. I’ll miss it.