Friday, October 29, 2010

Continued insanity

The demo at my son's school went very well (although nothing like I expected!) The kids were really interested in the instruments - I played them all, a little from WSS but mostly just little songs they knew. I'd guess most of them had never seen an instrument close up (sad).

But tonight is opening for WSS! SO EXHAUSTING! Seems to be going pretty well and both shows are sold out. Yay. So glad this is just a benefit, can't imagine lugging all this stuff for 6 weeks. I will have ob/eh/clar/ten for White Christmas, but that's still only one BIG case. And we'll be in the pit, not on stage. Kinda fun to be on stage though! I like being able to see, and even though my riser is cramped, I think it looks very impressive (which is what it is all about, after all).

But before that - I'm stupidly playing for the Old Lady Music Club, which is a lovely organization but not super quintet is doing the Barthe Passacalia and Ibert Trois Breves Pieces (so cute). Then I'm playing the Poulenc Trio but instead of bassoon we're using opheclide! Then the pianist will pick up a cello and we're doing some trios that were originally for reed trio, but we'll do ob/cello/opheclide. That ought to wake people up.

And I stupidly said I would play in church Sunday. Not that I mind, but this has been a crazy week, and Sunday is Halloween! So of course we are going out for that too. Fun stuff - son will be a south american indian. Wish I had more energy to think of a costume, but I probably will just show up (we go to our friend's house as no one comes out to the wilds of Mica Peak). Happy halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Moment of Insanity

WHY...did I volunteer to play all my doubles for Ds school this morning?! Moving all the cases and stands is a pain, and setting up is a pain, and PLAYING them is a pain...but his teacher is so thrilled - she got the soundtrack and I guess she'll play a little from that then I'll play my part for the kids so they can see how it fits in. And I'll talk about why I have so many instruments, and what they are. My guess is I'll play a little blurb on each one, and that'll be it.

So hopefully I will be feeling like I did a good deed later today. I have the hauling down to two (big) loads - just for fun I should weigh in. After tonight I can leave the stands at the theater (not the instruments, I'm just worried that way) so even though it will still take two trips it will probably be 1/2 the weight!

Since this is my blog I am going to whine about playing on a platform for a few moments. I got to the theater and since this is a concert version of the show (West Side Story) we are onstage. It didn't occur to me that they might put me on a riser. These risers are 2.5 feet up, and the worst part is all my stands. Many of them (bass clar in particular) have a fairly large footprint, and they have to be in a certain place so I can grab them FAST - there are a lot of quick changes in act I. Because of the riser, we only have about 3 feet from back to front - and I had at least another foot I was using out there. But I think I got things to work, although that was with only two of us on the riser (me taking up most of the space!) Tonight the third guy (book 2) will be there, I guess he can take his 1 foot of lateral space I left him! hehehe.

Friday, October 22, 2010


My brain is full of fingerings (usually the wrong ones, or the right ones for the wrong instrument anyway!) Definately the hardest doubling gig I've had. I was pretty impressed with myself when I played ob/eh/cl/tsax last year, but this is WAY harder!

I finally got the cuts - as I suspected, since it is the concert version many numbers are just gone. I only had 6 bars of EH left, and it was all high enough to play the exact notes on oboe so I decided to bag the EH. I am disappointed but it's one less thing to deal with. AND only one double reed (the least of my worries!)

I am having a lot of trouble with the upper BC register. Apparently this is not uncommon, especially with the type of octave key I have on this rental (no J, it was not better on the Bettony). Also can't seem to get high F on the Tsax w/o playing E first. It kinda sounds jazzy, so it might be ok. Probably just weak sax chops, but if anyone has any suggestions I'm open!

Only problems with the bari are AIR (holy cow that is a beast!) and physically moving it around. It is huge! Good thing about the cuts is that I'm completely done with tenor and bari after Act I. Kind of a letdown, but then I can focus on the rest.

Monday, October 18, 2010

East west...some way or other

West Side Story Update. OMG doubling becomes exponentially harder when you add instruments. I think I can say reed instruments are even MORE of a pain than doubling other instruments, at least those others are "fixed" and play somewhat the same every time you pick them up. But I'm playing SIX different reed instruments for this show, which means at least 6 reeds to keep wet and happy during the whole show (and 8 if you count the double reeds as 2, which I think I will just cuz). CRAZY.

And who would have thought each instrument would have its own quirks - like the top register of the bass clarinet is WAY harder than I expected, and I can get "in the zone" but as soon as I get that going, I switch to saxophone and wreck that whole embouchure. Kinda glad this is a benefit! But I expect overall I will do fine, WISH we had cuts of at least the big numbers we won't be doing. I KNOW they have this information (like they are probably cutting some of the big dances since it's a concert version), but for some reason I can't get across that I really don't mind adding the little cuts later. I guess they think it's better to give them to us all at once (at the sitzprobe!)

I did get one biggish cut from one of the singers last night - but most of them only write down things that directly pertain to them - and as we know most show singers don't actually count (come on, you know it's true!) they just come in "when it's time". So I have one cut that leaves out 2 pages of oboe (NOT the instrument I'd choose for cuts, but at least I know). And it looks like at least one of the EH parts (2 in the whole piece for a total of 16 bars) is good to go. Hopefully it is a big solo. It is the melody, so it's possible.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

calm before the storm

Mahler is all done, I'm not totally happy with my own playing but I'm not devestated either. Overall I think we did a pretty good job, and it was a great experience.

Now I have about two weeks before West Side Story, or the Extreme Woodwind Doubling Experience. I have procurred a bass clarinet stand from a friend, and since the bass clarinet was not quite playable, I rented one at the local musicmart. It is a LeBlanc, seems to be pretty good AND it comes with all those nice things like a peg and a neck! I do feel bad about J and all his hard work on the other horn, but maybe someday it will play.

The bari is still in the shop. Scary, but I've been assured it will be done today! Of course, I was assured that every day since last Thursday. The lady who loaned me her BC stand said she has had work done there and the metalwork is exceptionally good. So I feel a bit better...Just hoping it works smoothly. I've been practicing on tenor so at least I have the fingering thing going. It is scary to do this MANY doubles - since the oboe/eh parts are only a TINY fraction of the score. Usually I have those places for comfort, but I'm way out on a limb this time! Oh well, at least it is a benefit. On the other hand, I don't want other musicians (particularly) to hear me "not so good".

It is exciting though. And my quintet is playing at the end of the month - just a short thing we'll play Ibert. I'm also going to do some stuff with my friends who play piano/cello and bass things, so I believe we will try the Poulenc Trio (for pno/ob/bsn) and he will play ophicleide. !!!! Then we may try some reed trio stuff with the clarinet part transposed for cello and the bassoon part on serpent. They are really fun people (and professional musicians, so hopefully this won't suck!)

So I'm just trying to get all my reeds stockpiled before the end of the month - who knew it was so expensive to buy all these reeds?!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's Mahler time!

Has been really interesting putting this concert together with EPCO (expensive private college orchestra). I am surprised at how different it is with so many PEOPLE! We have nearly twice as many bodies, and it is hard to hear. The conductor is searching to cue people, a problem exacerbated by the fact that we have been in a different venue every night!

Musically it is coming together, but we're running out of time. We do have a sound check tonight, our only opportunity to play in the church. This is also our first time to play on our new moveable stage (available for rental!). Last year you may remember I painted plywood boards black so we would have a hard surface to play on - this did help a lot but the new stage should be even better as it is 4" high and interlocks in 8' pieces. We'll see!

I am worried because they are not planning to bring the shell tonight - I think it helped a lot but the concern is there won't be room for it. I don't understand that thinking, since there is no "wall" the stage just has a curtain then it becomes a huge backstage area. But no one asked me! Hopefully it will be ok - Mahler isn't too impressive if your giant brass section is swallowed up by curtains.

My husband has been asked to take pictures during sound check - he is "into" photography and has some really nice equipment. The orchestra certainly can't afford a professional photographer, and it seems like a great idea to have pix of this extravaganza.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's goin on?

Today I have a clarinet lesson! It is really fun since I only do it once a year or so - but the guy who played in La Boheme is my "teacher" and he's really amazing. I believe he got a lifetime acheivement award from the Clarinet association (whatever it is) this year. Hopefully he can help me with that high range and some of the "in between" stuff that makes playing the oboe breaks look like cake.

Our WW5 is planning a 1/2 concert with the string quartet in November, I think we are playing Barthe Passecalia (from the Yellow Book), Ibert, Arnold Three Shanties, and Haydn-Muth (also from the esteemed book). Fun! And I do think it is helping us wind players play together better. The pitch in the opera was so amazing, it gives me new confidence that "it's not always me"!

I'm in this musical "club" (mostly elderly females - I'm definately one of the youngest) that meets once a month and has a music program. As a performing member I'm asked to play 20 minutes once a year or so - and I thought it would be fun if the quintet could play this year - and it is conveniently scheduled 2 weeks before our concert! But it is also the same day as West Side Story opening, which 4 of us are involved in (with a total of 16 instruments!) But we can announce it and maybe some of these people will see the Little Orchestra has some talent too.

So that's all coming up - but trumping everything is Mahler 1 this Sat/Sun! I can't wait. I've been asking about the bells up on the bulletin board, apparently most people hold them up higher than I was thinking! I was going to go on the side of the stand, but I tried it last night over the stand and I think it will work. The only problem is my stupid bifocals - can't read the music when I do that! Such great music though, we are combining with the local Expensive Private College Orchestra (Thursday first day together) and it should be a huge sound. Just worried about fitting us all in place!