Sunday, July 22, 2007

A little cello news

Taking a break from Harry Potter. Whew. I don't know if I can stand this amount of intensity in every chapter. BTW, PFS, I had pre-ordered my copy from Amazon back in February. Love the convenience of having it delivered to my door, even though it means I'm 12 hours behind when I start reading. And I actually didn't have a chance to start until evening, which is why I'm only half-way through. Sleep is important. One of my favorite Harry Potter memories will be the anticipation of the book arriving by courier on release day, as I have done since 1998. Which book was that?

All of my past week was not spent flogging the computer issues. I had a pretty busy play week, too. On Friday and Saturday I got together with special music buddies to play cello trios, sonatas, piano trios, and string trios. The highlight was playing through some pieces written by Roger Bourland in the last decade or so that I had recently invested in upon Elaine Fine's recommendation. We read the cello quartet, with me alternating between cello 2 and 3 since we were short one, the piano trio, and one of the sonatas.

After reading, the universal consensus was that these are really fun pieces. They are technically within reach of good intermediate cellists, but will benefit from some thought and elbow grease. Everyone wanted a practice part so that we can work on them in the future.

On Tuesday and Wednesday my orchestra had our summer noon concerts. Both concerts were outdoors, on different parts of the University grounds. We split the music I listed earlier between the two concerts, with some duplication, and on both days had more scheduled than we actually got through. It was a lot of music, and I can admit here that I was not very proud of my playing, especially the second concert. It was very hot, we were on concrete, and under the tent the heat seemed to reflect off the ground to be trapped there with us. I was physically exhausted.

There was a light breeze that kept us from being completely miserable, but no stands were blown over and we only lost a little music here and there. We don't have the luxury of punching holes in orchestra parts to stabilize them in a notebook, though if I was in an outside seat I would have copied the music and put it in sheet protectors, similar to what Maricello described in one of my comments. (BTW, I have never seen fold-out sheet protectors, but they would be awfully handy.)

Since I had to use the principal's music, I didn't have the sheet protector option, but did have my choice of clothes pins or wind screens. I've used clips in the past, and find unclipping, turning, and reclipping to be an intolerable bother. Might as well not play, as long as it takes me. I chose the wind screen, a 12x18 in piece of plexiglass that sits in front of the open part. The brachial strings don't like them, but for cellists it's not too bad to grab the screen with the bow hand, move it to the side, turn the page with the left hand, then replace the screen and resume playing. I can usually do it within 6 measures, but did have to apologize twice for slow page turns. (You'll appreciate that, L8.)

Orchestra season is over, to resume in September. Cello lessons resume in October. I'm waiting to really want to play before I resume an intense practice schedule. Occasionally I wonder if one of the reasons I don't feel much like playing is that I don't have a very good cello to play on. My replacement is still waiting for the varnish to dry, somewhere in a very wet summer in England. In the meantime I'm practicing my cello desultorily, but spending more regular time on my piano lessons, which end next week, and a little ear training. I'm thinking about trying a beginning vocal class in the fall. And I'm enjoying summertime.

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