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.