Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Three times the fun

Talk about serendipity.  I had been struggling with some drama in my first orchestra and it finally came to head this past Saturday.  As expected, the ensuing feelings were awful.  I cared less about the accusations, which I knew not to take seriously, but about the way that what had been a sacred space for me now felt sullied.  I wasn't unmotivated about the entire musical endeavor, but did feel as though I was mourning the loss of something.

With those emotions weighing on me, I started getting ready for my teacher's mini studio recital on Sunday.  As I'm about to leave the house I see an email from an orchestra I've been interested in for a few months.  One of the first violinists at my college based orchestra told me about them and I attended their concert late last year.  With many pro-level players in the group, they seemed like the real deal.  Shostakovich 5 was handled quite well by them.  Anyway, they seemed to be having some trouble with their second oboe spot.  Now that I've been more involved with community orchestras and other oboists I think I can understand why.  When I first started playing in orchestras I kept wondering why good oboists would come to visit once and then never return.  For a while I worried it was something about me.  Why wouldn't someone want to stay somewhere where they could play first on pretty good works?  Well, the thing is that as you improve and get to a level where the notes themselves aren't as much of a struggle, you want to be with other musicians who are on a similar level, working on expression.  So I think they balked when they saw how our rehearsals would sometimes turn into string sectionals.  Given our proximity to NYC there are a lot of very good amateurs out there and not enough orchestras for them to play in.  Once they are at that high level they prefer to be first chair and so even the more decent groups can't always find a stable second chair.  No worries, ye orchestras.  Enter moi.  While I have improved tremendously since returning to lessons in 2012, I know that I still have much to learn.  And I have to qualms playing second in a good group where I can pick up tips for a good, conscientious first.

With that all in mind, I printed out about 30 pages of music last night in preparation for our first rehearsal on Sunday.  They will meet a handful of times in February and the concert will be on 28th.  That's lightning speed.  My first orchestra works on the same repertoire for months.  My second group meets 12 times before the concert and that seemed liked a bit step above.  Now the stakes will be even higher.  Am thankful to not be exposed as first.  I am definitely not ready to play first in a group like this and am in fact a little terrified about being able to keep up on second.  But I intend to work really hard and fake it 'till I make it.

Here is the repertoire:
Debussy - Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (Will not mention to them that I dabble in EH because there is an exposed solo there which I don't think I have enough dexterity for yet.  Am excited the second plays for a bit in the beautiful opening line.  But terrified about some rhythmic craziness in the middle of the piece.)
Dvorak - Violin Concerto.  Sorry, stringsters, haven't ever heard this piece.  Am hoping it's straightforward, but doubt it will be.
Elgar - Enigma Variations.  As in, the entire work.  Woah.  I was familiar with Nos 8 & 9 from Orch1.  But I had no idea how long this piece is.  I listened to it last night and here were more or less my first impressions on the variations:

Theme:  Ok this is beautiful lush string music.
I (C.A.E.):  Woohoo, great oboe duet action.  I need to find a way to play exactly like the first.  *gulp*
II (H.D.S.P.):  Oh wow, that's pretty fast.  Good thing the second only plays a little bit.
III (R.B.T.):  Break time for Oboe 2.  Fun listening to the bassoon.
IV (W.M.B.):   Holy moly, wake up now!  Baroquey exposed oboe duet warning.
V (R.P.A.):  Back to lovely low strings in the beginning.  Hmm and then come mildly terrifying oboe parts that I should be able to handle as long as it's not too fast.
VI (Ysobel):  Cool viola moments.  And a nice mostly stepwise line that I can handle.  I'm even alone for a bit.  Thumbs up.
VII (Troyte):  WTH.  I think my metronome broke.  Very fast and the percussion is scaring me haha.
VIII (W.N.):  Played this before.  Good to go.
IX (Nimrod):  Good old, Nimrod.  As long as they don't play it Bernstein-esque slow I should be just fine.
X (Dorabella): Don't lose focus and you'll be alright.
XI (G.R.S.):  I like the energy here.  Oh look, a low B-flat.  How sweet of you to test my instrument mechanism.
XII (B.G.N.):  Ahhh, cello.
XIII (***):  The calm before the storm.
XIV (E.D.U.):  Very cool to hear how some ideas are brought back in.

Overall, I like this selection of music.  It's outside my comfort zone which means it will definitely help me grow.  Wish me luck impressing this group.  This is the type of place you can make a permanent home.

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