Monday, June 23, 2008

Concert under the stars (not)

The threat of severe thunderstorms forced our “concert under the stars” last night to be held indoors instead of at a local town fair … so we sweated it out on a quaint, cramped elementary school stage

However …

It was an awesome pops concert. Between pieces, halfway into the concert, Maestro whispered “We’re HOT tonight” … but after reading my facial interpretation of yes, this auditorium feels like a sauna, then whispered “I mean the music and our playing is hot.” … Then he quickly quipped … “ok … let’s stop talking” … which then cracked me up. (probably one of those “ya gotta be there” situations.) Anyway, it was fun, and we had a blast. The playlist was fantastic, and we had a good number of people in the audience considering the last minute change in venue. It also turned out to be a very enthusiastic audience … probably because of the well chosen repertoire:

The Star Spangled Banner
Colonel Bogey March - theme from the movie the Bridge on the River Kwai
Gay Nineties Medley - including Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey and Ta Ra Ra Boom De Yay

Showboat - with the cellos carrying the melody on Old Man River
Moonlight Serenade
Mancini Magic

Hungarian Dance #5 - many cool tempo changes
Classic Impressions - which we played in our recent spring concert, including Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet and Borodin’s Prince Igor
Star Dust

Strangers in the Night - with 3 nifty key changes and lots of melody for the cellos
West Side Story

Stars and Stripes Forever - at breakneck speed, Maestro’s favorite tempo

We’ll be playing one more summer concert, and then we’ll break until Sept. I’ll miss our rehearsals, but the break will give me the opportunity to focus entirely on pieces and studies for my lesson.

Also of note: Due to a recent post on Cellomania, I double and triple-checked to make sure I’d velcroed my cello securely into its case before and after the concert.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Fathers Day, Joe

Donna and Daddy circa 1947
Miss you!

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Apprehension’s aftermath

In the busy month of May I was focusing most of my practice opportunities on lesson material rather than orchestra repertoire, so at rehearsal when I was the lone cellist (for the second week in a row) I accepted my lack of preparation and decided that I would just relax and do my best. It worked. I played well … but now I have some questions.

Maestro chose pieces I was able to follow easily. I counted carefully. Watched him more carefully than usual. Checked key signatures, tempos, meter, repeats and was acutely aware of any changes that came along. Luckily he began with pieces that we’d rehearsed before; then he chose some where the cello was not too exposed.

Hmmmm … Showboat. Never looked at that one. No problem. I’ll just be really really careful. Oh neat … I recognize these tunes.

Maestro was easy to follow. Listening to the violins helped me with intonation. I recognized that I had a familiar I-vi-ii-V bass accompaniment to “Can’t Help Lovin That Man” … I even hummed the melody in my head as I played the bass part.

Three pages finished … good … heading to the last page OK … great … Old Man River … melody. It’s always a treat when the cellos get some melody. But WAIT… I’m the ONLY cello! However, by the time I realized the fact that I was the only one playing melody I was finished with my “solo.” And I’d done it just fine – very easily with no pressure or tension.

Then we played it again. That time I knew the solo was coming. The ill-effects of apprehension began to creep into my head and my hand. Stress, tension, self-doubt. Although I played it fine it was so much harder the second time around because of the anxiety.

Why couldn’t it be just as easy to play as the first time through? What is this stressful phenomenon, what causes it, and how can I learn to avoid it?

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