Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cure for Melancholy

A good laugh helps cheer me up, and I can get that at the website for Igudesman and Joo (igudesmanandjoo.com). If nothing else works, this will. It is a duo consisting of a violinist and pianist, both very fine musicians, doing comical sketches. Please take the time to visit their website or find them on you tube. They are VERY funny!!
They have expanded to include an orchestra and another violinist, but the original duo sketches are the funniest, such as Riverdancing Violinist or I Will Survive or Rachmaninoff has Big Hands. The violinist (I think) has written some very clever arrangements that he plays in the sketches. Such a treat!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Violist Late to Concert

Greetings,
Playing in an orchestra seems to be serious business. Not many chuckles during rehearsals, and unthinkable during a performance. Control rules. Play follow the leader, perform as flawlessly as possible (or fake unobtrusively), look pleasantly serious, and dress in formal black. Oh----and no matter what--no coughing and DON"T BE LATE! It can be stressful, and sometimes I imagine ways to release the steam-like pressure that builds up. Like suddenly screaming in the middle of a performance. Or blatantly playing a dissonant chord really loud. Or wearing a bit of RED (I had a viola professor who loved to wear red socks for concerts).
I have had a few funny and embarrassing experiences during my many years of playing in community orchestras. I think I will begin my blog with some of these.
Embarrassing orchestral situations..which one first? I think the run-out chamber concert to a car museum in Auburn, Indiana. MANY years ago....on a Sunday evening......I left my church meeting in Fort Wayne with just enough time to meet my ride. I ran a bit late and she left without me, but her dad gave me directions. I remember turning right on some country road and feeling that I was going the wrong direction. I was already nervous because my time schedule was tight, and now my stomach really began to churn. I just could NOT be late to a concert........that would be a living nightmare to me. I tried to calm the brewing frustration and anger at being given the wrong directions, but it was too late. Panic set-in. Eventually I regained enough of my senses to turn around, and I stopped at an A&W to ask for directions. Some luck.....there was a policeman who helped me...but I was definitely going to be late. When I arrived at the museum I was very nervous and fell after getting out of my car. Green grass stains on black....yup--you could see them. Things were not going well........
Hmmmmmmm--where is the rear entrance? Oooops--there was NONE. I walked to the front entrance in an anxious state bordering on frenzy, wondering how I could possibly get in without being seen by everyone.
The entrance had two sets of doors, back to front, separated by a small, glass-walled room. Beyond that was one huge room, emptied of vehicles on the left side where the audience was sitting. I have never appreciated the set-up of an entrance so much--it partially hid me while I watched the audience and waited for the first piece to finish. Lucky for me it was only one movement....good, I shouldn't miss too much, I thought. Then I realized that the orchestra was on a platform far to my left in the corner of the huge room, and in order to get there I would have to go to the back of the room and walk forward down an aisle through the center of the audience. To make matters worse, I then had to ascend steps on the opposite side from where I would be sitting. THERE WAS NO PLACE TO HIDE. This was going to be awful!!
The piece ended and much to my relief the conductor left the stage and walked down the aisle through the audience to the back of the room. Unusual....wow......PHEW! Now not only could he see me coming (he could not have from the entrance) but I could apologize. Or grovel. I don't think it mattered what I said--my face probably provided him a lot of entertainment.
Down the long aisle I then proceeded, alone, trying to look as if nothing had happened. I made it to the stage without tripping, and then climbed up the steps with nervous legs. Noting the condition of my lower extremities and my propensity to be clumsy, I slowly and carefully traversed the LONG stage, winding through stands of violins, feeling like an elephant in flourescent pink. Then I had to play as if nothing had happened.
At intermission the principal second violinist, an older, seasoned player, calmly looked at me while sitting with his smoking pipe in hand and summed it up with "was it a long walk to Auburn?". Needless to say, I am always very early to concerts!!

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.