Friday, September 29, 2006

Well, at least they all had plenty of leg space.

Last night's DMS season opener was a mix. First of all the ~2200 seat hall was half empty. This was a disappointment and a bit of a surprise. The past openers I've played with them featured YM and IP and they were sold out. It is very exciting to play to a big sold out house. There is something visually stimulating about looking over your stand into a massive sea of strangers. And maybe it is also the thought that if we played well enough they might rush the stage in delerious rapture trampling us in the process. ("Excuse me ma'am. I'm glad you enjoyed the Moncayo but could you lift your heel out of my ribcage? We have to play Capriccio Espagnole next. And would you mind very much plugging the hole in my lung, at least for the beginning of the second movement?") Anyway, the soloists this year were admittedly not as big as previously. And classical guitar is somewhat of a niche instrument. I just hope this attendance doesn't signal a trend for the season.

The concert got off to a shaky start when only half the orchestra stood up as we started to play the National Anthem. Then, here and there, the rest stood up as the piece was being played. Very second rate looking. Everyone seemed a little unsettled at first but things smoothed themselves out during the Chadwick, "American Sketches" and all was fine (mostly) by the end of the guitar concerto by Bernstein. (Not that one; the Hollywood guy. Elmer. "Airplane II", "Meatballs". That guy.) Well at least the people who showed up seemed excited and enthusiastic. That's all we can ask. Plus, now we can use all those extra programs to help heat the hall this winter!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another Season Opener

It's almost two in the morning. I'm lying in bed at one of my many homes-away-from-home. I've just finished a set of rehearsals with the Des Moines Symphony for our opening concert with Christopher Parkening and Jubilant Sykes tomorrow night. This starts my third season with the DMS, and thanks to a couple of successful late summer auditions (for this group and this group) and lots of sub-work (with this group, this group and this group) it is shaping up to be a busy year. I also squeeze in playing principal horn in my hometown orchestra for a few concert sets a year. I get to see my folks and eat some home cooked meals. Can't beat that.

The only problem with a busy playing schedule is that auditions become hard to fit in. Not preparing for them, mind you. There's plenty of time to practice. Actually having a day or two free to fly to another part of the country (or world); that's the hard part. It becomes a balance between taking the per-service gig to pay rent now, or taking an audition for a real gig (full-time with benefits) which might let you pay a mortgage later. A really good economics lesson in opportunity cost. Of course if auditions are investments in the future, their performance is terribly unreliable (even when my performance goes well). Of course, you may only have to win once in your life.

And that's my goal. To finish paying my dues in the regional, per service orchestras and move up to The Show. Don't get me wrong, for the time being I'm enjoying myself immensely; traveling from town to town, spending a week here and a week there playing great music with many fine musicians. But if I wake up one morning and find myself doing this at 40, with a bad back and an even worse attitude... Well, let's just say that won't be a good morning. And speaking of good mornings I had better leave it at that and hit the hay. I want to be up in time for checkout. (And to catch some of the WGC from Ireland before I am once again not only cable-less but TV-less!)

So hello blogosphere. Anyone out there listening?...