Sunday, February 15, 2009

Awesome Valentine's Day!

So, yesterday was Valentine's Day. And I had a great day despite not actually having a 'Valentine'. :-)

I went to Kings Park with my parents because I was playing in the WASO/WAYO concert there in the evening. It was one of the concerts in WASO's Classical Spectacular Series. We had a few rehearsals without WASO first and then three rehearsals with WASO. There were about 150 people in the combined orchestra. It was always a WASO member and a WAYO member together. We played the Festive Overture by Shostakovich, and then Shaun Lee-Chen played Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saens with WASO minus WAYO. We went off stage and listened. Shaun Lee-Chen is such an amazing player. I know the piece quite well, even though I've never played it and I didn't know what it was called or who it was by. Listening to him was heaven. Sigh....

After that, all us WAYO players piled back on stage (me with the addition of some really annoying mozzie bites) and played Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1919). Then it was time for the interval and we all found our way back down the hill in the dark to return our instruments to the safety of their cases for the duration of the interval. I once again made my way to the portaloos which were available to the performers (just like during the break from the previous day's rehearsal). There were two for the ladies and two for the gents. For some reason there was a queue for the ladies' both nights but not for the gents. On the rehearsal evening I decided to wait until one of the ladies' got free and then made it back on stage just in time for the second half of the rehearsal which contained some drama. More of that later. So when it came to the interval in the concert I decided to not take any chances by waiting for a ladies' to get free and went into one of the gents' portaloos instead. All I can say is that I sincerely hope that the liquid on the floor was water... I made it back to the tent in time to talk to Bec who'd gotten back before me from saying hello to some friends who had come to watch the concert. Oh, did I mention the portaloos were on top of the hill, but on a sort of an incline, actually about halfway up the hill. So you sat at an angle. It was quite a weird experience...

After the interval we played Peter Sculthorpe's Sun Music III followed by Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel).

Out of those pieces the only ones I hadn't played before were those by Sculthorpe and the Firebird Suite. We played Pictures at an Exhibition in our midyear concert last year with gues conductor Vladimir Verbitsky (awesomely great experience!) and the Festive Overture was the opener of the WACO concert last Monday. Wow, I've really been busy...

So, back to the piece I hadn't played before. The Sculthorpe was mostly effects and counting. No difficult runs or anything like that. However, the Firebird Suite is a killer. I can honestly say that I could not play every note. Although one of the more difficult movements was our encore piece and I played it much much better the second time round. I think everybody did.

It was a really great concert and such a good experience to play with the professionals and see how their rehearsals run, although I guess they made some concessions for us kiddies. The woman I sat next to was really nice and chatted with me and told me funny stories about previous outdoor concerts. :D The weather for the concert was really nice too. Earlier in the day it had rained on and off and as we arrived at Kings Park there was one last shower and then it cleared right up. Actually as I sat in the sun with my parents and ate dinner it was quite hot. In the end I decided to get myself backstage before I actually had to because it was behind some trees and the stage, so it was cooler there. Also fellow young musos including a rather cute bassist had congregated there while I was eating dinner. :)

Anyway, so the weather for the concert was great. Pretty much windstill which was great for us because we didn't have to cover the music with clear perspex sheets which make page turning a real chore. (Move perspex, turn page, replace perspex, don't drop instrument in the process and don't hit anyone with any part of your instrument either.) Due to the calmness of the evening we were able to leave the perspex sheet on the floor and all page turns went off without a hitch. :-)

The day before it was quite windy, so we used the perspex thingy and I had more than one page turn which took longer than the time I really had... In the second half of the rehearsal we also had to stop for a while because it had started to rain and quite a big portion of the orchestra was not covered by the roof of the stage. Actually, most of the string players weren't under the roof, which considering we play wooden instruments which are highly susceptible to changes in temperature wasn't ideal. So then 10 minutes before the official end of the rehearsal we all sought cover and they told us we'd wait a while to see if rehearsal would resume (we still had some movements of the last piece to go) or if we would leave the rest of the piece to chance. In the end it stopped raining long enough for us to bash through to the end and then it was time to go home.

Below are some pictures of the concert.
I know the picture quality isn't very good. But you get an idea of what the stage with the orchestra on it looks like. If it was a better quality picture you'd be able to spot me on the right. :-) Another photo of the stage.
A close up of the right hand (or left hand depending of where you're standing) of the stage. I am pretty much in the centre of the picture towards the back... My head looks really tiny. :D

In this photo you can see me putting the little microphone on my strings near the bridge. I'm the one with dark brown hair looking down when you look past Catherine in the forground. These pictures will no doubt pop up on Facebook in better quality.

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