Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

As for me, I had a lot of fun hanging out in Cincinnati with fellow crazy musicians. :-)

The Bach concerts went really well, on the whole. We were performing in a church, which had a really great space for us, with plenty of room for the orchestra, the choir, and the movie projector. Unfortunately the sanctuary was freezing cold, but you can't have everything. We had three rehearsals in the space, one to run through each solo movement for each set of soloists, and two dress rehearsals with the movie running in order to both triple check tempos and let us get our distraction and gawking out of the way. And gawk we did. I'm not sure what I was expecting the movie to be like, but it was not like the actual movie, which is 27 short films, one per movement of the Mass. There was a loose connection between the movements, but in general they were free-standing, and their material ranged from kaleidoscope shots of trees and leaves to children playing to Bach himself to the 3 wise men to an Escher-like scene of birds morphing into fluorescent blue crosses to break-dancing to the "Et resurrexit". Some of it was cool, some kitsch, and some rather disturbing. You can find a trailer of it here.

The nice thing about the format of the film was that we had some leeway between the movements, which gave us oboes enough time to comfortably, though quickly, switch between oboe and d'amore, and also allowed us to remain very closely synced with the movie. In terms of our playing, I thought both performances went really well. The soloists were really supurb, the choir fantastic, and the orchestra definitely holding their own. :-) And though we were dealing with slightly subpar instruments, the d'amore duets turned out really well, and the first oboe played really beautifully on the d'amore solo.

It was interesting playing first with the movie and then the second concert alone, because they felt so very different. When we played with the movie all of the lights in the sanctuary were out, and we played with stand lights. Every time the lights went down and we breathed and opened the Kyrie, I just was swept away by the music. For the second concert, though, we kept all of the lights up. We could see the audience, and it was wonderful to see the looks on people's faces as we played. There was one man in the front row who would have made the entire performance worth it had he been the only person in attendance.

We got a complimentary and lengthy (though heavily focused on the movie) review of Friday's concert here.

Since then we haven't had orchestra rehearsal, until today. We met to read through student compositions, which were surprisingly unobjectionable, and also to read Also Sprach Zarathustra. Now, as we rotate the wind sections through the top three ensembles, I won't be playing Zarathustra next quarter. However, there's so much confusion among the oboes right now regarding the rotation that I stuck around in the (likely) event of one of the four not showing up to rehearsal. I'm so glad I did, because I ended up playing 3rd oboe.

It was stunning. I could not for the life of me stop grinning in utter joy. If you don't know any more of the piece than the opening fanfare, please go and listen to it immediately. It will be completely worth it.

(I would do
anything to be playing in that piece next semester. It's the same concert as the Oboe Concerto, so there may be some shuffling of players out of normal rotation. I don't think I'd be the one asked to play if they needed an extra, but I swear, I would take myself out of the competition right now if I was guaranteed a part in that piece.)

Speaking of the Strauss competition, I've been slacking too much on learning and polishing up that piece. It's daunting to practice, but I really do want to do the competition, so I need to buckle down and get to work. I'm pretty happy with the first and second movements, but I feel like I lose the sense of each movement as a whole. I need to work on having interpretation and technical integrity at the same time in those. And on getting all the way through the pair of them! Plus I'm still learning the third and fourth, though I'm actually less worried about those two.

I'm nearly done with the Gillet etude book, which is rather exciting. I only have three etudes of 24 left! I'm also continuing to work on a couple English horn pieces, and thinking about what I want to play on my recital this spring. I would sort of love to play one piece each on oboe, English horn, and d'amore, but I think that trying to practice on three instruments at the same time for a recital might be a little too much. I'm definitely going to play a piece on English horn, though.I was disappointed to find that our music library doesn't own a copy of the Dring trio for oboe, flute, and piano, but I did find her Three Piece Suite for oboe and piano, which is really nice as well. It's very much like twisted British folk music, and it's fun and flashy without being super hard or way too easy. It would be a nice piece to round out a recital, I think.

Enjoy the freedom to listen to holiday music sans guilt!