Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The start of something big

I am no longer an orchestral virgin! WOOHOO!! I still can't believe that I played a symphony. Not bad after playing oboe for only 16 months. I can't even explain how nervous I was from about 30 minutes before it was due to start until we actually started playing. Even during the tuning I was still ultra nervous. I was almost shaking. Part of it too was that I wasn't feeling secure about my playing. I still haven't fully recovered from the days of practice that I lost during my illness. The intonation and dynamics control that I was beginning to gain had become elusive again. My teacher was kind enough to meet me at school today to bring me one of her reeds because I didn't want to play in public with the ones I've been practicing with. Her reed was great, but I hadn't played on it before and I didn't get there early enough to warm up. Plus, I felt a bit shy about the others hearing me. Thankfully, my sound blended in with the others decently enough. And I didn't have any major intonation issues tonight (though some of the clarinetists did hehe).

The interesting thing was that the nerves disappeared as soon as we began to actually play. Oh I forgot to say that the instrumentation ended up being a bit unbalanced. We had 4 oboes, 2 on each part. Two other oboists from the orchestra showed up but left when they saw that there were 4 of us already. The other 2nd oboe was also not a regular member of the orchestra. No bassoons showed up and there was only one French Horn. There were 5 clarinetists and not enough low strings. We even had two guitarists show up and try to play the violin part. It ended up sounding pretty ok even with the weird orchestration.

Back to the music. The first movement was the most fun. Maybe it's because I am really familiar with it so I didn't have to count as much and could feel the music better. I ended up getting somewhat lost during parts of the second movement. We had really long rests and I would get distracted! Oops. I would start worrying about whether my reed would dry out. Or I'd start listening to the music. We ended up skipping the 3rd movement which sucked because I really like that one. But I think part of that may have been because we were lacking in terms of the lower pitched strings and brass. The 4th movement was really fun too! I managed to do pretty well on it to my surprise. There is a little part near the the beginning that I sort of memorized and if I tried to do it while reading I would end up messing up the fingerings. So I had to just close my eyes to do that part and then open them once it was over. How weird! The conductor marked the presto at the end REALLY fast!! I didn't think I'd be able to keep up but miraculously I mostly did.

My only complaint about the whole thing (besides the funky instrument balance) was that it was too short! We ended up only playing for an hour. When he said we were done I thought we were going to take a break and then play the whole thing from top to bottom. WAAAH! Oh, and the only other bad thing is that now I want to play in an orchestra every single day. What have I done? I've unleashed a demon. I knew I would just absolutely love playing in an orchestra. I am still in disbelief that it actually happened. I wasn't able to really think about my FEELINGS about the whole thing while I was there because I was so worried about the music, my sound, my dynamics, etc. But it was great. I really really want to be playing my oboe so much better and so much more. I KNEW that I was right. That once this hit me, it was the real thing. My husband doesn't always believe that I really found my passion but I know I have.

I came home and since I was still yearning to play I ended up practicing my piece for about 45 minutes. It sounded better than it has all week. I am getting back into shape.

So there you have it. I wanted to write more about it. Maybe I will be able to once the adrenaline rush goes away. All I know is that I am more determined than ever to be as good as I can be. I HAVE to do this more than once a year!

Here I am before we started. What a natural! :-D

Check me out in action! Oooh, my chin looks nice and flat.


Waterfall said...

Hilda, this is so exciting! Congratulations on your first orchestra experience, and here's to many more!!

Jennifer Grucza said...

It sounds like you had a great time! Playing as a part of such a big group can be such a thrill! Have you played any chamber music yet? I'm playing on an oboist's recital - we're doing the Mozart oboe quartet, a trio sonata by John Harbison, and an arrangement of a Bach organ prelude for oboe quartet (they're also doing some arias for tenor, oboe, and continuo).

patty said...

Brava to you, Hilda! I hope you have many more orchestral experiences, and that they all bring you great joy! Isn't playing in a group a fabulous thing?