Thursday, November 08, 2007


Sometimes that's the best you can hope for. When you know you are in over your head, but the concert date has arrived. You've practiced, but honestly not as much as you could because the task feels so overwhelming and you just don't want to.

Now, don't get me wrong. It wasn't a disaster. Every time we pulled apart, we pulled back together. Somehow. It was a particular challenge because we never rehearse in our concert space, and it's set up with the winds four feet above and at least fifteen feet behind the strings, and the time delay was unsettling.

Some things went very well. The strings played a Mozart quartet, K. 157, between Carnival and Enigma, a breather for the winds, and a chance to enjoy playing something musically, and all of the notes, too! We didn't flinch when Maestro decided to play the second movement, too, not originally planned. He was watching the clock, saw we had a little extra time (we had never achieved a run-through of the Roman Carnival Overture without stopping before, so he hadn't timed it quite correctly) and we finished the concert exactly on the hour. Way to go, Maestro.

In the end, I feel reasonably good about how I played, competently in Nimrod and Variation XII of the Enigma Variations, the cello soli that I had learned 15 minutes before I left for the concert. For the most part, I came in where I was supposed to, at the right tempo, and didn't play during the rests. However, in spite of my best efforts over the past week, walking around clapping, counting out loud, drumming on the counter, and every other way I could think of, I just could not get the Mendelssohn-like variation with the cellos pizz on the afterbeats of 3 and 1. And unfortunately, neither could anyone else in the section. Though I continue to maintain that the real problem was that the violins had jumped the gun and come in early, and we never had a chance.

I love sitting around after the fact and obsessing over every little detail and thing that went wrong, and exalting over the things that went right. I remember long drives home from orienteering meets in college, reliving every hill, flag, and wrong turn with my team mates. But I don't know, other musicians don't seem to be so into that. Maybe it's the reticence that comes from not wanting to point fingers or make someone else feel bad.

I guess I can always say it in my blog. Heh heh.


Maricello said...

Sounds like a good concert, despite the problems, and I enjoyed your analysis. Reticence may play a role, but also, in intermediate groups at least, analyzing music performances may be a skill not everyone is up to. I refrain from doing it much on my blog because ensemble-mates read my blog. I think of them saying,"Was she even at the same concert I was at?!"

Sometimes I wish my ensemble mates were a little more reticent, but analyzing and discussing is valuable.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Well . . . I followed most of what you wrote . . .although some of it sounded like a math problem, and you know me and math.
I do wish I could attend one of your concerts one day. Shall we make it a date?

Gottagopractice said...

Oh, goodness, Maricello, I'm not talking analysis, just agonizing over the screw-ups and and celebrating the tough parts that happened to work out!

Would be happy to have you at a concert, Beth, but methinks the coordination might be difficult.

Oh, my. It's snowing megaflakes.

melissa said...

I've had a miserable experience playing. Last Christmas Eve I was playing "I Wonder as I Wander" and I missed the intro run and it went all downhill from there. Sadly, the floor didn't open up and swallow me. But I lived to play the second service (I cut out the intro run). We all have days like that.