I’ve been working on this project for so long that I’d almost forgotten that an ACTUAL CONCERT was going to be the end result - it seemed like all I was ever going to do was worry about money and harass printers - but now that we’ve had rehearsals and I’m planning my program notes I begin to think that it might be real. And that we might actually be getting to the part I’m good at, which can’t come soon enough for my morale.
Two years ago at a convention I heard this 2010 Martin Bresnick piece, once, and immediately recognized that I had to play it. The composer had gone on a pilgrimage to see the tiny Belarus town his parents and grandparents had grown up in, and describes the bucolic setting with nostalgia and love. The middle section, a lullaby, seems to reference his own childhood, and as such feels very personal. The piece is beautifully written for the instruments, has a g…
This week we are putting on a huge concert with the South Bend Symphony. Strauss, Sibelius, Smetana, and Lalo - great tone poems, huge and complex works that tell deep stories and require serious preparation.
And tonight’s rehearsal was canceled.
Tonight’s rehearsal was canceled, and mercifully the orchestra’s management was committed to fixing the problem.
The Force Majeure clause in our contract, as in most contracts, would mean that the canceled service was UNPAID, despite having been on our books for months. I’ve held this Tuesday night clear of other gigs and scheduled students around the rehearsal. I might have hired a babysitter or arranged a playdate. It’s been my job ever since the schedule came out in August to show up at 7:30 tonight ready to play Don Juan. And just because we have two feet of snow on the ground and wind chills of 25 below, or whatever, suddenly I’m not making any money tonight, and no one is liable.
At nine this morning I was on the phone with our o…
Beethoven’s Second Symphony, for one thing, which is just the right amount of difficult to keep you busy and engaged and concentrating and on the edge of your chair but not quite hard enough to get stressed about or to exhaust you for the rest of the day.
And a guest conductor, for another. We worked with David Glover, assistant conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony. He held our orchestra to very high standard, asking for truly soft playing, driving tempos forward despite the difficulty of the piece, and insisting on excellent ensemble work. I have a great deal of respect for a leader who requests a specific string section articulation or wind section sound and then keeps insisting until it is achieved. I respect a leader who comes in with preformed musical ideas and a clear mental picture of the performance, and who works efficiently to create the conditions for that performance.
I love to be asked to change something in my playing. I love to be…
I am excited to get back to work this weekend with the South Bend Symphony.
It’s been a long vacation. We welcomed it, and made good use of it- some traveling and a lot of sleeping, mostly, but every day is fun with Zoe. We made Hide and Seek Muffins and French Toast and Ice Cream out of Snow, and played innumerable games of Uno, and hiked and shoveled when the weather permitted and watched movies when it didn’t.
Our family needed the break desperately, but after three snow days - right as school was supposed to begin again - extended our vacation another week I am intensely ready to get back to a routine of regular orchestra work. My private students all came back this week, and the college kids will start up soon - but the playing is really what it’s about, isn’t it?
So we go back to work tomorrow morning. This will be the first non-Christmas orchestral playing I’ve done since mid-November! I hope I remember how to maintain a tempo without the aid of sleigh bells.
Things have not been going all that well in Zoe’s cello lessons. She’s only had a couple of months worth, and I wasn’t so sure even before we started that she was ready. And in the first few lessons all my suspicions were borne out - she was all over the place, poking around her teacher’s studio and playing with toys and asking irrelevant questions instead of focusing. I was embarrassed and infuriated.
After the excitement of the first week wore off, she never picked her cello up to practice it at home. I would ask her to practice and she would put it off, and then not do it at all. Clearly Zoe did not want to play the cello.
I realized only recently that it’s completely my fault. How on earth did it take me this long?
I know how music lessons work. I teach as many as 25 lessons a week, and I’ve been doing it for years. Students come in for a period of time and pay attention and learn, and we can be friendly but they have to act respectfully. They go home and work on t…