20. February 2008 · Comments Off on But Did The Orchestra Smile? ;-) · Categories: Links, Quotes

“I’m not even going to try to describe the effect it had on me, other than to say there are a few cultural encounters that have marked me forever — understanding Cézanne for the first time, my Merce Cunningham epiphany, my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth viewings of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flowers of Shanghai — and the Turangalîla now joins their company.”

Read here.

20. February 2008 · Comments Off on Oh … & Just So You Know … · Categories: Ramble

I do think there are rules we musician sorts should abide by even while I bristled. I’ve certainly written about it.

I’ve received letters from children at youth concerts telling how much they enjoyed the music, but wondering why the orchestra looked angry, or sad. (Read here and sent to musicians of SSV because we are, I guess, misbehaving and upsetting people.)

No, I’m not sad. But sometimes I’ve just bared my soul to an audience. I’ve worked my (too large) butt off. And I’m wasted. Entirely wasted. I smile at kiddie concerts for the most part, though. Even when they are playing their “I’m gonna be the last one to clap” game.

And, okay, some musicians probably are angry; not everyone in an orchestra is always a happy camper. Go figure. Some are always angry. Some are crazy. Some are frightening. Sort of like the rest of the world.

But really. Sometimes I want to say to the audience … I just worked so hard I can barely move. Sometimes I am sad. When I’ve finished playing something that makes my heart ache I know I can’t cry—that’s what the audience should be doing—but still my heart hurts. And I’m quite weary.

But okay. I’ll try to pin a smile on my face. I can do that, although I’m really not big on smiles. (When the soprano comes out to take a bow after Madama Butterfly, by the way, she doesn’t always smile either. It ain’t just us musICKYans that react in a way that apparently doesn’t entertain the audience enough.)

As for movement … it’s true that some orchestras from other countries move more. I find it distracting. I’ve been told (but I’ve only been told; I don’t know it for a fact) that if you don’t move enough for your audition (in one European country, anyway) you won’t be hired. Of course the same country doesn’t hire people over 30 and the female population must be quite low because orchestras are mostly male. But what some other country does … does that make it better? Worse? You tell me. It’s also understood that the section players shouldn’t move quite as much as the principals; it steals attention and looks ridiculous. So we take our cues from our section leaders.

Packing up on stage? Only when we are done. I agree. (But my reed gets put away immediately and anyone who doesn’t understand why will just have to deal. Sorry. That’s not negotiable.) I knew someone who packed up during a work for all the audience to see because he didn’t play the very end. Sorry, but on stage that’s tacky. In the pit I pack an instrument if I’m done with it; it’s safer put away than sitting in our far too chilly location. The instrument is important and it’s going to be packed.

Talking? Meh. If it’s against the rules I’ll not talk while we are taking our bows, although frequently someone else is talking to me and I’m trying to answer out of the side of my mouth. That probably appears like a grimace to our audience, so I guess that’s gonna get me in trouble too. Here’s the thing, though—when we are talking we are usually smiling and we are jazzed about the concert. It’s difficult to contain that glee with silence. So I guess we need to remember we can smile but we can’t talk?

Anyway … ramble ramble … I initially bristle at being told what to do. And being told how awful I am. Most people do, don’t they? Probably writers of blogs bristle as well.

Oh. Wait. I’m a blog writer. And I have been scolded and yes, it caused me to bristle. (And it hurt. And then I worried. And couldn’t sleep. And I finally got over it.) As an aside, I never smile as I type. 😉 (But I put in these lying little emoticons for your pleasure.)

So yes, musicians at live concerts need to think about how we look. Of course. And I really do. But smiling? It’s not always natural. Moving? Depends upon the work, my position, and other cues I receive. (Conductors often can give off cues, and of course if the rest of the orchestra is still I’m not about to, as second oboist, start dancing in my chair!)

I dunno. Is any of this making sense? Does any of it matter? Probably not. But there you go. I think I need to eat. My brain is in a muddle.

PS I love what I do. Very much so. I work hard at it too. I actually probably smile more than my plumber, the store clerk, my dentist or my doctors ever do. Really. I’ve never thought that my dentist didn’t like his job because, when he’s busy torturing me, he isn’t smiling.

… at least I’m assuming it’s the final one.

It’s another mixed bag review: sort of positive, sort of not.

20. February 2008 · Comments Off on New Blogs · Categories: Links

… to me …

Chandos has a blog. (How annoying that the radio segment comes on without one’s requesting it. Dear Chandos, can’t you change that please?) They are also on emusic now. Big time. Which is quite cool.

And I see Naxos has a blog too.

So there you go. For now that’s all I’m sayin’ … too much to do, too little time!

But more later, I’m sure.