10. December 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: Christmas, Ramble, Videos, Watch

Last night was our first rehearsal for Nutcracker. We don’t have much time to actually stop and start (ie, rehearse), since our particular Nut is longer than most; we add some of Cappricio Iltalen as well as the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin. I miss the “pure Nut”, but this one is what we do, so there you go. Tonight is our final rehearsal for Nutcracker. Again, not a heck of a lot of time for rehearsal!

But we know this thing. Well … except subs. But they learn quickly; they have no choice. For oboe and English horn the music is technically not terribly difficult. There are the eighth notes that can go very quickly toward the beginning of the first act, and there’s the sixteenth note “blurp” (just wanted to use that word) in Cappricio Italien which can give us trouble, but that’s it. The English horn has a number of solos, and I have one horrible instrument switch: at the end of the second act’s first number the English horn has a solo that ends on a low B. I have to start moving the EH toward my instrument stand so I can grab my oboe quickly, because I have only a few seconds to get ready to play the oboe duo in Cappricio Italien. (Are you starting to understand why I would love not to play that particular added piece?) But the biggest challenge has been to deal with playing off of two stands, because my music had never been combined. I had to mark my parts clearly, and note when to turn pages of each book so I would go smoothly from part to part (not sure this makes sense to non-musicians, but musicians know it’s a pain to play off of two books).

BUT … this year a combo book has been put together! I have frequently said something like, “There’s going to be trouble if I die and someone has to sightread this!” I guess maybe they know something I don’t know because they put together the book this year. I’ve used that line before, but this year something happened. Hmmm. It’s great to have it done, even if it is fairly illegible in parts (copies of copies of copies … a sightreading sub would still have some problems, but not as many.). I’m incredibly happy to have one stand in my little corner of the pit. (I’m right at the pit wall closet to the audience, right under the conductor’s right arm.)

There’s also the challenge of making good music when one has played this for eons. It could be like saying the Pledge of Allegiance for the millionth time in school (do they even do that any more?). I don’t want that to happen to me. We are playing this for people who want to have a wonderful experience. We are playing for children who see some of this as magic. We are playing for some who are at their very first Nutcracker. We are playing for families. We are playing something that really brings many a lot of joy. I remind myself of these things and I always attempt to do my best. The day I stop doing that I really hope I can retire. I don’t ever want to just “phone it in”. It would make me very sad. (I know, I know, I whine. I have my silly Nutcracker poem. But truth is I do want my playing to be as high quality as possible any time I play. I fear getting lazy and sloppy and don’t want to go there.)

Oh, and of course the other challenge is making sure I have good reeds for both instruments.

Anyone wanna send me a reedy Christmas present? ;-)

I absolutely adored the video (they request no embedding) of a teacher with some young children, singing lyrics to the Sugar Plum Fairy music. The best thing (for me) is one child wants to sing the bass clarinet part around :39… too bad the teacher shushes him! It’s a natural thing for all of us to do if we sing the thing!

And then there’s this, just for fun:

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