Sunday, December 28, 2008

Last bell gig

What a crazy night - Christmas eve that is. Now that it is over I can reflect calmly on the situation. First of all, we are experiencing an insane amount of snow for this area - over 3 feet at once, and more was falling every day. A huge storm was predicted for Christmas eve into Christmas. So I was concerned about us getting to church (and back!) as well as the ringers. I had 4 subs coming in, 2 of whom hadn't rung in 6 years (college aged) and one who had never rung a bell before - but she was an exceptional musician. And my options were limited. I got there early so I could mark parts for these people since they'd be sightreading - it is way easier to follow your two notes in the score when you highlight left hand in one color and right in another. I was up for anything to make this go easier.

Somehow my early arrival slipped away and we were rushing around setting up tables etc (which the praise band had shoved to the far side of the stage in a clump instead of our usual line - exactly why I had wanted to be in the balcony!) The pastor came in and said I had a phone call (odd). It was B - my only 4in hand ringer (which means it takes 2 people to cover his part) and he couldn't get in due to weather. His wife is the choir director, she was playing violin in the praise band, and he was in charge of all the readings. SO! That was kind of terrifying news.

I went back out to the bell choir and tried rearranging people again to cover Bs parts (which were on top - so big melody notes). Amazingly the 2 who had rung at camp 6 years ago were really fine, the music major had no problems and everyone really stepped up to cover holes in the middle. Maybe not our most memorable performance, but husband J said you couldn't tell anything was wrong! Good enough for me.

My super people will be the worst part to miss about quitting this job. I am sad but so excited about getting more time. Someone from the bell choir found the readings and they distributed them for people to read - another ringer/vocal choir member directed the vocal choir in their two pieces (which I sang in) - fortunately they had just done these pieces in church and the accompanist just pulled us along. But still these wonderful people just rose to the occasion.

B's wife S was supposed to play violin in the praise band, which was this motley assortment of musicians our new DOM did not-well-thought-out arrangements for. I was playing oboe because I felt sorry for her, not realizing I would just be filler - most of the oboe parts doubled the trumpet parts an octave down (so you couldn't even tell I was playing). This annoyed me. But since S couldn't get in, I offered to play the violin parts (also crap, but better than the oboe parts). DOM was amazed to figure out the oboe was in the same key as the violin (Finale, what have you done to us?!!) but I assured her I could play it just fine. The girl playing the 2nd violin part was REALLY out of tune, and she didn't know how to tune her instrument. I had the cellist (who was the music major playing bells for the first time) sneakily tune it for her between services. Lines of sight were another huge problem, even with the bell tables awkwardly shoved out of the way. It was kind of a dreadful experience, at least musically. I am sad for what I consider the death of sacred music (praise bands in general); although I am a huge advocate of well arranged live music with more than 2 chords. I think it is good I'm taking a break now!

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