After not blogging for four days, I think it’s time for a post. Heh.
Saturday and Sunday took a lot out of me this weekend.
Saturday I drove an hour and a half to Grant Michigan to accompany five students at the District Solo and Ensemble Festival.
My first player managed to get pushed up to 8:08 AM, so I left the house at about 6:15 AM. It was a beautiful night: a dark deep sky with a huge magnified low full moon.
I arrived early. I noted that since my last visit to this school for the same event, Google had corrected the name of the cross street in its mapping. Nice to see. Last time I took extra time determining that the last cross street had two names: one where you turned and one for the address of the school. Had to stop and ask someone at a grocery store.
But not this time.
Four of my five students played before lunch and I basically whisked from one performance to the other. The tuba player played an interesting little rag by Arthur Frackenpohl called “Tubarag.” I actually did my worst playing due to a mixup with the page turns (it had repeats and DSes and Codas…. ). But the player remained “unflapped” and did well.
My two string players played learning concertos. These pieces are ones that I have been exposed to through my accompanying. Apparently the composers carefully think about the positions and ease of the part they write and compose pieces that are just challenging enough for a mid-level player. The music is a bit showy and doesn’t have a lot of content. But it’s fun to play. My viola player’s piece was a bit more interesting. I pointed out to her a rhythm she was playing incorrectly in the course of our rehearsals. It was satisfying to me to hear her nail it in performance, even I realize that this is not always possible with young musician’s learning curve on relearning sometime. More distressing was watching her and the others go through the extreme pressure this kind of event puts on the players.
I usually point out to anyone who will listen to me (after the fact) that this is some of the most stressful playing musicians do in their lives due to the juxtaposition of the pressure and that time of life when you are so off balance.
The other two players were clarinetists, one advanced and one less so. They both played well. And they both played some interesting music. The advanced one played two movements from a surprisingly effective violin concerto transcription by Tartini. The other played a lovely Fantasy for Clarinet by Schumann which I have mentioned in the blog before.
So I madly jumped in the car and drove home to tune the harpsichord and prepare for the next day’s service and rehearsal.
I have been spending a lot of time preparing music scores with Finale lately.
Last week I put several pieces into files for my string players. On Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, I made performance scores for myself.
I took the many pages of the Tallis piece we sang yesterday and reduced them to three pages by omitting the four staves of the singers and just entering the piano reduction and the words. That way I could see clearly what they were supposed to be doing but still could manage the pages and conducting from the harpsichord. Which is what I did.
This came off pretty good in church. Due to the nature of our reduced rehearsal times (one stop shopping Sunday AM service plus rehearsal), I am less able to shape the blend and subtlety of performances. But this approach seems to be the ticket these days in a time when it is hard for people to give more time and commitment. But as I mentioned to the group yesterday, we gave our best performance in service which is always the goal.
I also prepared a version of the Lotti Sanctus we are learning for me to conduct from. I reduced the size of the lines I wasn’t planning to play (1st violin, Soprano, Alto, Baritone) and retained the larger size for the two I was (2nd violin & cello).
I know this is one of those posts which is mostly shop talk but it’s what’s on my mind.
I also performed Ned Rorem’s Sarabande in G# minor. This is a lovely piece and several choir members commented on it. But the young acolytes were totally oblivious to the fact that I was playing the prelude and sat and chatted loudly right next to the piano. I managed to keep most of my concentration despite this and do the interp I had planned.
I lost this score this week for a couple of days so I didn’t get to rehearse it as much as I wanted to. I had accidentally straightened it away with a bunch of choral music. But it is one that I quite like and basically had in my fingers.
I found my energy ebbing in the post service rehearsal. Usually I try to keep others’ energy up, but I had difficulty just keeping my own up. We rehearsed with the violinist and cellist for the pieces they are playing on and then managed to get through the music we are planning to perform at the recital on the 14th. The group’s morale seemed good despite my own exhaustion.
Well that’s enough for today. I have some serious goofing off to do. Heh.