Ok, finally a picture of the serpent! NOT the most fabulous picture of me, but it's not really a picture of me, after all. My friend L from the big symphony is a big fan of old instruments, and he brought his second serpent for us to play - very fun! Notice the nice finger technique I'm demonstrating.
Yesterday was the only rehearsal for Messiah, and it was AMAZING!!! I haven't played the whole thing for years (no one seems to do it in the NW), and it never really seems like Christmas without it. But this is in an amazing church with a huge pipe organ, and all pro musicians (except 2nd trumpet, who is a church member). Listening to the arias (which the oboes mostly sit out on) I was just in awe of how great the strings sounded! It is also a neat thing, one of the violins (who is our concertmaster in the little symphony) was at grad school with me and we played this 100 times back in Ohio. Seems like everyone does Messiah back east. Oh well. Fun times.
Can't wait to do the concert tonight, hope the singalong part of it doesn't wreck everything. And the soloist are mediocre, although the baritone is quite good. But just playing with these fabulous musicians makes life funner.
Also this morning I played in church - one of the Mannheim Steamroller thingys for the predule (holly and ivy, I was fabulous but people talked through the whole thing) and then a lovely piece with our semi-pro baritone, who is really fun to work with. I can't even remember the piece but it was lovely. Of course no one will remember because this was the Children's program Sunday...and they were really cute.
Got the recordings back for Wizards of Winter (bells) - and they were really good! We play it about 1/2 speed, but considering all it was great. I am considering putting it out on Utube. We'll see.
What happened to being done with my responsible things??? At some point all this will be done (I guess when I'm dead). At least it is different stuff this week - mostly to do with our "Wicked Wodka" party (Jim started this party about 20 years ago, long before my time). For more on that see other blog.
This weekend is the one rehearsal and concert for Messiah, it is a sing-a-long; which I didn't realize until I looked it up online. Oh well, at least the musicians are all pros (with the possible exception of myself!) And I'm playing in church Sunday, suddenly more than I thought. But that is ok if I have a good reed. Which I do right now (fingers crossed). AND it is supposed to dump snow Friday night; really hope I can get through as my rehearsal is at 9am and the plow will probably not get to us until Sunday or Monday! The joys of being rural would be more if I had a 4WD. At least I now have studded snows on.
Done with my responsible things!!! What a relief - now I can actually get the house ready for our Christmas party (THIS Saturday!!! eek), write our Christmas letter, start (yes start) Christmas shopping, practice the bells (hahaha), and plan for Christmas eve. Oh, I guess I am playing the oboe next week in church - we will do some of that Mannheim Steamroller stuff. I got the flute book. And since I'm playing there will probably be hymns (aren't there always?) And next weekend is Messiah at the beautiful old stone church, looking forward to playing 2nd! Less pressure (in a way) although I will be really making an effort to sound great since many of the "big orchestra" people are playing, and who knows who might be listening?
This morning the bells were great!! Not perfect, but certainly passable, and the overall effect was awesome (with the crazy lights and all). Fun fun fun. And OVER! I just feel so responsible for everything, now I can relax. And tonight is the church staff party at the pastor's house - so hopefully they will all be thinking how great the bells are (hehe). I am going stag since we couldn't find a sitter, and I really feel that I should go. Would LOVE to stay home as it is snowing and we just cut our tree (on our own property - Jim loves to go hiking and find a tree). They look a little sparse compared to a farm groomed tree, but it is fun to have our own. D always gets a little stick with a few branches that he likes to decorate with ancient garland and balls, Jim even found him a little 20 light set last year. Very "charlie brown".
Ok, usually I make it a rule to only have one stressful thing going on if possible. And I guess this isn't really stressful, but if I can't complain in my blog, where can I?
Yesterday at the "tech rehearsal" the DOMs husband showed up with music he said I should play at church today. On the oboe. I have this huge bell undertaking today, and it keeps getting more and more complicated. First it was just our big piece, Wizards of Winter (TransSiberian orchestra). Then we added a hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent" (one of my favs). Then another hymn at the end of service "Away in a Manger". Then the lighting guys at church did this whole choreographed light show of Wizards - kinda cool, but coordinating is going to be interesting. Then I find out I will be playing "lead" on this other hymn/praise song thing I don't know, and we have to rehearse it this morning...which I wouldn't mind except all these things take time away from what we really need to practice (wizards)! I'm sure it will be ok, but adding guitars, keyboards, lights and stuff makes it way more complicated. Hopefully everyone will show up on time. Oh, and the choir is doing a piece too (which I'm not involved in) but that takes some of the precious "hour before church" rehearsal time.
The lights...what can I say? I actually asked the light guy if he thought he could do something during our piece, thinking maybe they could flash the side lights at the end or something, but he has gone crazy (in a good way)! We have red and green gels on varous spots - there are dimmer lights - he even installed strings of white lights under our tables behind the "drapes" which are just black material so you can't see our legs from the front of the tables. You can't see those lights til the end when everything is flashing around...don't know if this is totally appropriate for church, but they are so excited about all thier lights and things, how can you deny them? And it will all be over soon - I will take the neighbors out for lunch after (5 of them are ringing this morning).
I wonder why I do these things - my youngest ringer BEGGED me to play the Wizards of Winter once again this year, and I actually was able to bribe enough ringers to do it (we need about double our usual number) and found a guitarist (fun but not technically apt) and two keyboardists (to cover all the parts my bell-people don't quite manage). And so today (Saturday) I'm having an extra rehearsal. Which I never do, but we really need it - tomorrow is the big day! Hopefully they can remember their parts for one day.
I love directing in some ways, but the stress is not desirable. Also the uncertainty about budget (they won't tell us ANYTHING, and this year I only bought gloves, which I paid for myself) Since there is nothing I can really practice myself, I have to rely on everyone else! Of course, I can put countless hours into copying parts, setting up and organizing (all for my handsome salary).
Next weekend I have Messiah, which should be lovely as they hire all pros. I am just playing second, which will also be a nice destresser (I think!) - the mysterious G is playing first.
The college orchestra concert went very well - I didn't play much (Beethoven Piano Concerto #5 with pianist Simone Dinnerstein-she was FABULOUS, and the Morning Noon and Night Overture by Suppe).
However, the next night I played for the community band - with no rehearsals, just because I *couldn't* come to any - but the music was not difficult and it wouldn't have been a problem EXCEPT, I had no reeds!!!! Before we left, I was giving the last minute instructions to the sitter, and helping J with his tux, getting my reeds wet (as I always do), and I got distracted (imagine that). Found reeds on the counter later that night, but as we live 40 minutes (one way) from the college, there was no way I could get home and back. I was the only oboe player. There are no oboe teachers/students at this community college. FORTUNATELY, I had just moved my oboe to the smaller case (no EH) and in my bag (which has many pockets) there was an old musty box of reeds (probably 10) - I had forgotten I even had that case - there were two others in my EH case and the one on the counter, this one must have been at least two years since I had seen it! Anyway, I got the reeds wet and found ONE that would actually crow decently, it was tired but it worked. What an adreniline rush that was - most exciting band concert ever. Wouldn't want to do that again just to make it interesting though...
Also, I went to little orchestra office to help sort music (cuz I'm so nice), and found out they are having trouble with the chamber concert in February (which was going to be all strings). I said I could play the Mozart Quartet with the people available, and the manager was really interested! Then she asked about the Bach Double (which she didn't realize was really for oboe and violin) which the concertmaster and I had been hoping to play this year but we got bumped for the silly strings only program...anyway, she wanted to know if I could do both! Yay - almost a recital, with orchestra! Nothing is set in stone, but I would love to do those pieces.
Yay, the little orchestra concert is over, and I must say at initial inspection I felt pretty good about it!
Of course there was an annoying speech at the beginning, kinda funny but way too long and repetative (as usual). I want to recognise our sponsor, and maybe even draw attention to the next concert (which is in the program!!!) but that should take less than one minute. Nuf said.
The first half was Lt. Kije - hardest part is the nasty eb minor arpeggios in mvt 2. They all made some sort of upward movement, had all right notes and were within the right time, but not exactly even. But not awful.Ah well. Our trumpet player was awesome (and nice too!).
The second piece was the jazz piano concerto by my friend B. I really hope he publishes it - what a great addition to the rep. At least for the first oboe! I had lots of big solos in that, and all was great except one squawk out of nowhere! On a lower g, weird. Oh well.
Then we did Russian Christmas music, and I must say I was pretty superb on the massive EH solos (they are totally alone, with no one else playing in the group) EH was in fine shape, did just what I wanted. I was slightly annoyed that I didn't get a solo bow for that one, but apparently D was busy preparing for the stupid schlock we were going to play next. We did the horrendous version of "Refiner's Fire" from Messiah (with clarinets and horns and stuff) I have ranted about that enough in previous posts. The singer sounded great. An aside - the singer kept asking to move the tempo, and at dress D said, I listened to a recording (the first one???!!!) and I thought 172 was fast but they went even faster! Well, yeah. He finally took it in two and it was a recognizable tempo. I don't believe anyone but the other oboist and me (and perhaps a few vlns) had ever played Messiah before (at least not for real). *sigh*
Then our three great trumpeters came out in elf costumes. They played Bugelers Holiday - sounded great, but then D thought it would be really funny to have them do the whole thing again, faster. It was kinda funny, but not worth the time.
The alto came out to do "Oh Thou that Tellest Good Tidings" from Messiah. OMG, that was awful. And not her fault, she sounded at least ok- but the orchestration was AWFUL, and D had asked our sweet little pianist to play a non-exsistant harpsicord part. She is the first to admit she can''t improvise, but D is a wonderful jazz pianist/improviser, and he just doesn't understand those of us who need music. AND he asked her to do this AFTER dress - so she was faking it for the first time at the concert. Not good. At least he cut the winds (oboes were tacet anyway, the one winds actually scored in the real Messiah), strings alone would have been better.
Then a completely underrehearsed "Skiers Waltz" by Gould - should have been sightreadable, but we were all exhausted by this point, and we had only read it once in rehearsal.
After that we did a nice but not necessary "Christmas Song" with the baritone - that's Chestnuts roasting on an open fire - again, singer great, music fine but nothing special. Then the alto came on with him and they did "Baby It's Cold Outside", both of these we did last year and both nice but not adding anything to the concert (except time!!!)
Finally not one, but two singalongs - first Leroy Anderson, lovely, conducted by our "Golden Baton" winner (they auction off conducting the orchestra for $$, great fundraiser). He actually had his masters from Oberlin, so it was great. Usually the winners can't conduct at all and we just follow the concertmaster. Anyway, this guy did a great job, but because they made it into a singalong, I'm sure no one heard the orchestra at all. THEN B (the jazz piano concerto guy) did ANOTHER arrangement of Christmas stuff - nice, but just more of the same - and I'm sure he just threw it together because they asked him...SO too long. So this concert was an HOUR longer than usual, nearly three hours. I am good with 2 hours, but three is ridiculous unless you are doing a special piece like St. Matthew Passion (which I may get to play at the Bach Fest this year!!!!)
I would have cut both Handel arias, the Skiers Waltz, Christmas, Song Baby it's Cold, and one of the singalongs. Then it would have come in at just over 2 hours and that is ok. Rant rant rant. Anyway, today I have the 2ND dress for college orchestra, and tonight is the concert for that. Also the Advent festival at church (which Jim is forced to participate in, not totally unwillingly) But D will have fun there making gifts, I will hopefully get the the tail end of it before I have to go play again. And J has his dress tonight for the band concert, which is tomorrow. I will play that with NO rehearsals - kinda scary, but not too. Still looking for sitters for tomorrow and Thursday (Js company Xmas party - at VERY fancy hotel, considered one of the top 5 in the WORLD if you can believe that, so fun to dress up NOT in black!)