Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Concert week!

Seems like this is the big week! I have three concerts this weekend (all different) - starting with Firebird, then the bells and finally the college orchestra. Bells sounded good tonight - they are such fun people to work with. This will be our last full bell performance before summer - I have 4 people who want to learn some advanced techniques and they will do a quartet in a few more weeks.

The musical B&tB seems to have gone away - I never was able to reach the director, so I called my bassoony friend and told him the extra week of shows was just not going to work for me. I did have a very good lead for him on another oboist, and several other ideas if she wasn't able to, but unfortunately I had to leave a message. I hated being so impersonal (this person is in a fragile emotional state) but he was going to show up at bell rehearsal with music, and I really didn't want him to drive all out of his way and THEN find out I was blowing him off. I worry about these things, but I'm sure it will work out better for them with the other person (who will do it for free).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Musical crap

About 2 months ago, a bassoonist (from my quintet, which hasn't met since our recital a year ago) called about doing Be*uty and the Be*st. This is a great show - and I've done it twice before, but they wanted a gratis performance. So I said, I really at least need gas money, and gave them a price per service, which was rejected. I forgot all about it until Saturday, when E called and said he wanted to distribute music at my bell rehearsal! Music for what, I asked. He goes on about B&tB, saying I had confirmed that I would play (which I NEVER would do, he hadn't even given me dates) and that he had talked to the director and she was going to pay me out of her own pocket!

This seems ridiculous to me, I would not consider the oboe part worth more than any other part! But he also didn't have exact dates (I looked online and there are SEVEN performances, he told me three on one weekend!!). I said I might be able to if he could get me dates and times, and he did call back tonight with the new information about 2 weeks of shows instead of one...and he had no idea if the director was thinking to pay me per service or a flat fee. This is so stupid, I don't even want to do this! I feel bad for them, but I think they should be looking for HS students and community band people - who would love to do the show for free (most of the other parts are being covered by youth orchestra people and such). So tomorrow I will call the director and try to sort this out. What a nightmare.

Slings & Arrows

I have been watching this series while I tread. I had never heard of it, but if you are in the arts in any capacity it is GREAT! I guess it is a drama/comedy sort of thing, realistic portrayal of behind the scenes at a theater festival in Canada. Complete with an insane (slightly) director, aging diva, slutty ingenue, pure and wholesome understudy, movie star playing Hamlet and a ghost of the artistic director (only seen by slightly insane new director). My favorite people are the horrible arts management people who want to ruin the festival by only focusing on the commercial aspects - that sounds dry but they are EVIL in their hilarious ploys to wreck the show. I "know" all these people and I actually bought the whole series (got them on Netflix first). So, for all my artsy friends, I highly recommend Slings & Arrows.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Wow, how did the week get over??? But who cares - we can see the sun for the first time in ages! No snow predicted until at least Monday.

Bells actually went great on Wednesday - we are doing Kum Ba Yah (everyone's favorite!) and it is a decent arrangement, but the weirdest thing is it doesn't seem to matter how many ringer I have. They keep dropping out but it still sounds fine! Yay. And I found a hymn for my neighbor boy to play the bass bells on - he is a true bell hog in training! Hope he gets to go to the bell workshop this summer, but I'll be playing La Cage (ooh-la-la)

My student showed up for lesson this week (nice) and next week is the last one! Orchestra was fun, first half we did the Mendelssohn double pno conc, it is BOR-ING for the orchestra. It is weird because that is actually going to be the closer for the concert. That might be ok if Emmanuel Ax or someone was playing, or if we weren't doing Firebird! I can't believe they are putting Firebird on the first half. Who plans this stuff?

Anyway, Firebird was fun, we are doing the 1919 version that has 4 winds on each part, and THREE harps! I have never done a piece with 3 harps. It is great to see all the people in the winds, too bad we have no extra strings for this one. I really wish people would at least listen to the practice CDs they make us - you can really tell some of the winds (and everyone's a soloist in this version!) have never heard how it goes. The beginning is extremely exposed. And then they complain because they think DD is cueing them, but he is actually cueing someone behind them. When you play the part you should at least know approximately when you are supposed to come in! And supposedly this is our 4th week of rehearsal (concert is NEXT week!!!). Hopefully lots of practicing is going on during our lovely spring-like weather. HA

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

college job

And now I am sick. Still. And it is supposed to snow today. *sigh*
Last night I played with the college orch, 2nd oboe on this great Bruchner overture I didn't know at all, but it has great parts - 2nd oboe even has a few solos! And the Moldau - no surprises there. Also we are doing some movie music which we didn't get to, that will be mostly doubling. But it is fun to play with the group, and Dr. P does a good job of conducting.

Funny to compare with our orchestra, struggling to better some ways this group was better, at least quieter during tuning and they settled faster after we stopped playing. I am so sick of everyone just blabbing away every time we stop! I do love DDs conducting though, he is very passionate. Dr.P brings a lot to the podium too, but he doesn't inspire in the same way, more delicate and precise. That isn't exactly it, but he's better at baroque/classical music. And KH (other college orch conductor) is mostly great at scheduling - he is mediocre with the stick, but brilliant at getting the most out of rehearsal time. This is a great skill to have, but I love playing for DD (in a MUSICAL sense of course!), and the others are just fun.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Today it snowed. Again. And it is snowing again now. *sigh*
This morning I played eh for church - actually I was quite pleased with how we sounded. Since my oboe reeds suck I guess karma steps in and this old eh reed just worked great. And even though the church is VERY dry, for some reason where I was standing it was really nice, with just a bit of ring to the sound. yay.

AND I even practiced the oboe a bit today. Will be playing 2nd on the moldau and a Bruchner piece. Fun fun fun - but I rake in the bucks for that! Actually I do like playing with the various college orchestras, but I wish this one wasn't the day after our orchestra's finale (of course the college dress is hours before I play Firebird, ah well! The college conductor is our concert master, so I can't really complain to him)

Friday, April 18, 2008

more firebird and lesson gripes

Well, I thought I had the perfect reed, but apparently not!

Last night I was rushing around and dropping D off with daddy so I could get to the lesson I teach right before orchestra, and my student sleeps through the lesson. Literally - when they weren't there I called and apparently her dad forgot today was lesson day and so did she (and this girl is 16, not 9). They pay by the month, so at least I'm not out cash, but this is so annoying; and I would have WAY rather had my hour back! This is the second time that has happened. There are only two lessons left this year anyway, but maybe I won't teach at all next year.

Rehearsal went ok - oboes 3 and 4 (eh) will hopefully come next week (and until the concert May 3). Oboe 2 has some serious woodshedding to do. Doubt she will, but she is very nice. She left at the break because she didn't have much on the 2nd half, mostly doubled parts. Can't say I really blame her, but it doesn't seem like she is that committed to playing. Once I hacked my perfect reed it played ok, the weather is making me crazy. And it is supposed to snow again! argh. My big solo in the firebird is actually a duet with the viola! What is that??!!! I couldn't even tell she was playing (and this woman is no shrinking viole(t))

This Sunday I'm playing eh in church, we decided that Satie Gymnopede #1(not as famous) from the Thomas Stacy book, and some organ thing H had. Also some hymns I suppose. I am somewhat crushed as it appears that H is leaving soon, artistic differences with the pastor I think mostly. So who knows what that means for the bell choir (not good I imagine) and of course all the fun solo opportunities could be over. Of course they might get someone who utilizes oboes and actual music (as opposed to the endless 3 note praise song), but I'm not holding my breath...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Ring

Wow, what a nice experience! I think most of the ringers had a good time, it was MUCH easier to see the conductor, and we were able to spread out in a gym (instead of the narrow church where we couldn't see anything). Not that I usually would advocate playing a concert in a gym, but this was good.

I was sad we didn't get to interact with the other ringers a bit, but everyone is in a hurry. I thought Phyllis Tincher did a great job of getting us as together as posssible - there were 9 bell choirs of 3-6 octaves each (that's about 9-14 ringers in each group). Some of the pieces we all played together had pretty complicated rhythms, and she would slow down (I suppose to accomidate us) not realizing that makes it harder! With huge groups like that I think the best is to NEVER change tempo. Especially with the tiny amount of rehearsal time we had. Oh well, it was fun. I sightread one of the parts so that was challenging for me- must say I did a good job. But who knows if we'll even have a bell choir next year, apparently the woman who usually runs the Spring Ring is in the hospital and will not be in charge anymore. I'm certainly not going to volunteer!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

And now the Spring Ring!

Argh. One more thing! At least more poor dead oboe reeds can rest for a day while I order the bells around! I have no idea what will happen today (stress!) but we are going abuot 30 miles to a mass ring situation. I guess most of the choirs will also ring a solo, but not us. We don't even know the music for the massed pieces, but hopefully it will be a good learning situation for everyone.

It is so much harder to be in charge of everything (at least I'm not in charge of the whole concert). Organizing the equipment moving (TONS for bells), carpools, maps for everyone, schedules, etc. And the inevitable, "Oh, is that THIS week? I'm going out of town..." It really makes me appreciate DD and Dr. P (with the orchestra). What a nightmare, although the orchestra is a bit more professional about it all, there are 70 people! I only have to deal with 12 (10, wait, now 8...sigh)

PDQ review

I would have to say the concert was pretty amazingly good! The Fuga Meshuga went great, really, and people seemed to be cracking up with all the upsy-downsy stuff. The biggest laugh did indeed come during the retrograde inversion.

The Schleptet was also very funny, but the Sonata for Harpsichord and Viola (Four Hands) was hilarious. And then they did the Erotica Variations (piano and "banned" instruments, including balloons, toilet paper rolls, slide whistle, kazoo, airhorn and more). Our fabulous conductor D played piano for this and did the catering - Dr.P was conducting the other stuff. He had a lot of choreography - but I think it really came off well.

The opera was ok, I didn't ask J how well you could hear the text yet. The narrator (think Evangelist from the St. Matthew Passion - he actually dressed as a western preacher) was great. Oedipus was MUCH better last night, he had worked on his part very hard. Still harder to hear than the narrator, but he is a bass and the narrator is a tenor. Billy Jo Casta projected very well (sop) and had many rhinestones adorning her western attire. The orchestra looked pretty spiffy too - fortunately some people brought lots of stuff so I borrowed a red bandana and straw cowboy hat, the violist had chaps (yes, yes, pronounced "SSSSSHHHHAPS", NOT "chaps") as she is a professional horse person, and Dr. P had some big old boots. I figured no one would be able to see if I wore boots. I was mostly worried about "coverage" for the retrograde inversion, so I dressed for that!

I think the audience really had fun, but it was not crowded. I am really disappointed in our marketing efforts, and it worries me. I have offered many times to be the "marketing person", whatever that means, but although met with initial enthusiasm, nothing has been done. Oh well!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

more PDQ

Tonight is the concert! We have a sitter, and J is actually going. Hopefully we will not suck. That is my goal! I feel really underprepared for this - and I'm sure I'm not alone. The parts are not hard at all (although there is a high G in the Fuga Meshuga) but the "staging" is a huge thing.

Dress rehearsal actually went pretty well (bad sign?!!), but everyone is tired from having late rehearsals and driving so far. I am actually one of the closest with only a 40 min commute - our bassoonist has nearly 2 hours! AND she just found out she is pregnant (yay JY!) - really hard on her with all the up and down stuff in the fugue.

I feel bad for Dr.P, he seems overwhelmed by the whole thing - so many details and really no help. We have no stage crew, someone has to introduce all the pieces (in the absence of PDQ himself - the intros are very important to the schtick). He actually asked me to play with his college orchestra (2nd oboe) in May - it is the day after our Firebird concert but that should be ok. And of course I get paid, better than for our orchestra! Not that money is why I play, but it sure is nice sometimes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hard to believe it is Friday - we have just one more PDQ rehearsal before the gig tomorrow. I called the NPR station and asked them to give away a couple of tix (totally last minute, but they are so nice about fitting us in!) and I actually got another gig! It is for a school chamber music program, and lasts the first week of June. Seems like it will work out great since D is in school during that time, and J could always pick him up that week if necessary.

The PDQ concert is kind of terrifying - just because you want it to be funny, but to do good schtick (spelling??!) you have to really know what you're doing (no sightreading). Unfortunately we are basically sightreading (read everything once, except the opera which will be hilarious)

The Fuga Meshuga is a quartet for fl, ob, bsn, vln - PDQ decided it is hard to tell where the theme is in a fugue, so he has the person playing the theme stand up during the theme playing, then sit for the rest of the time. Does that make sense? So we are up and down, and as the piece starts overlapping the theme it is quite funny. THEN, if you are a musical type, you know a composer might use the Inversion of the theme (changing the direction of the notes, instead of going up a 5th you go down a 5th etc). So the flute player stands up, bends over and plays the inversion of the theme. Then the violinist plays the Retrograde (starting at the end and playing to the beginning) by turning backwards to play, and the oboist gets the thrilling Retrograde Inversion, (backwards and upside down) by turning around and playing the oboe between the legs. This is actually written in the part. I am so not thrilled about doing this! And of course you have to have that part memorized, and the piece keeps going...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

long break

I haven't posted for ages, mostly because I just haven't been playing! We had spring break last week and I had every intention of working on reeds, practicing etc, but I didn't. Oh well. Now back in the groove - we had PDQ Bach tonight.

The hall we are playing in is an old church, and it is REALLY live. Scary live. NOT good to hear words over an orchestra. So, hopefully they will think of things to make it better. I am bringing all my little kitchen rugs for the winds to put under our chairs! The narrator (for Oedipus Tex) is great, he really has his part down. But he kinda has to as he won't be at the dress rehearsal. Oedipus has a nice voice but he didn't know his part as well - but this is the first time through with orchestra, and I don't think the conductor had ever heard the singers before! Eek. The lady doing the staging is terrific though, I've worked with her many times and she really knows how to put on a show. So I feel good about that.

The chamber stuff I am somewhat worried about - we need more rehearsals. We are apparently going to leave DURING the opera rehearsal and practice (in the NOT AT ALL soundproof upstairs room) for the various chamber stuff. But I'm sure it will all come together at the end.