ricardienne: (chord)
So I'm playing in this volunteer "baroque" orchestra, part of the First Family of Alternative Classical Music in the Valley Productions (father conducts, mother sings, 8-year-old son composes, plays the violin, is hyperactively precocious). The orchestra is mostly local music teachers, plus a few retired symphony players. Very retired, I might add. I may have a grand-daughterly crush on the principal violist, who is probably about 90 and a bit hard of hearing, and who always contests dynamic instructions, and then plays loud all the time anyway. He's also adorable.

Anyway, the awkward thing is that we're playing a Haydn aria (this one) and our singer (the conductor's wife, naturally) isn't quite up to it. She sounds good in some places, but a lot of the passage work is not terrible clean, and the high sustained notes have that "soprano imitating a cat" sound. I shouldn't snark, but...

In other news, from this interview with Meghan Whalen Turner (PAGE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR CONSPIRACY OF KINGS) is this interesting quote about influential books:
It's a toss-up between Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones, which a friend gave me when I was 16 (he thought he was loaning it to me, but I never gave it back) and The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, which I read as a freshman in college. Without Diana, I might not have been published. Without Thucydides, I don't know what I'd be writing.
I always have assumed Herodotus, mostly because of the obvious plot borrowing, but also because of the importance of oracles and religious ceremonies, and the inset stories. It may be because I have so much trouble getting my mind around Thucydides as a whole that I feel like this information has to change how I am seeing these books. But I am probably overthinking.

pages

Dec. 29th, 2008 10:38 pm
ricardienne: (chord)
I'm playing in Obscure Repertoire Orchestra again. Thankfully, the music is obscure '30's Germanic rather than, say, unbelievably bad music written by living and local composers, including the conductor's frighteningly precocious 8-year-old. (And his was not, by far, the worst piece on that program.)

Anyway, I'm sitting third, so I am not turning pages in the giant, page-turn-full pieces we are playing. And that experience is making me recall odd things.

Page-turning, recently, has been in my life in the form of awesomely executed turns in a very short time in chamber music, solo pieces that have to be memorized because they have no places to turn, and a few brilliant page-turn tricks that I taught my section this semester.

But in middle school and high school, page turning was a big deal. It was where the hierarchy of the obsessive competition for chairs played out -- much more than in divisi parts. There was something demeaning about having to stop playing and turn the page for your partner: if you were on the inside, you performed the service with passive-aggressive punctiliousness, if on the outside, you enforced your superiority by not ever turning the page, even if the other person forgot. I admit that I probably obsessed over the implications of this more than other people, it being the only major intrusion of practical status-difference in my life. But I was not by far the only person who behaved this way (and shall I go into the Mean Girls-esque fights and broken friendships that happened when a violinist sat in "the wrong chair" in middle school? Or the problem of the appropriate attitude toward a section leader and his/her bowings?)

I think that I have become a little more mature: at school, I usually beat my stand-partner to the turn, because slow page turns annoy me. But tonight, I was getting a pleased-embarrassed feeling every time my stand-partner stopped playing to turn the page for me.
ricardienne: (Default)
Sight-Reading Orch. was Beethoven 6 and Brahms 4 tonight. I decided to go out on a limb and sit first stand, ended up sitting with L., who founded the orchestra, and is a really fun guy to play with. In general, it was a fun section, tonight. Everyone was strong (I think), and, seriously: Beethoven and Brahms: both who understand the importance of bass lines and counterpoint. I'm on a sort of my-wrist-is-killing-me-but-BRAHMS high right now.
ricardienne: (Default)
-rehearsing student pieces, including one by the conductor's hyperactive and unnaturally talented 8-year old son. Who has perfect pitch, and stopped the run-through to announce loudly to the flute player that "it's an a-sharp".

-Tam Lin (Pamela Dean): I feel like I should have enjoyed it more than I did. Which I think was because I wasn't convinced by the elfland business. Probably I should reread Fire and Hemlock, and then appreciate how coherent Dean is.

-Kathryn Reiss's lastest YA novel. It creeped me out a lot, but all of the things that were bothering me in the beginning (some weirdly flat/stereotyped characters, mainly) were fixed by the end.

-weird dreams involving fleeing across the desert and hiding under carpets, being a slave in a villa urbana and N. from Latin being indicted for murder.
ricardienne: (Default)
First rehearsal for Dido today; Ami, the coach and leader (heh -- the director is British, so I feel justified in mentally thinking of her as the leader, and really, it does make more sense, since we're a four person orchestra), thinks I will/should play everything. This is pretty awesome, but, this is exactly what happened two years ago, and Professor H. nixed it on the grounds of "too hard to coordinate and it's perfectly authentic to do just harpsichord to accompany vocal stuff"). BUT, he liked my Bach a lot last semester, and now he knows I'm a good musician, and maybe he will trust me. And maybe Ami will put in a good word for me.

On the downside, my part doesn't include any cues for the accompanied recits., which I will definitely be playing. And of course, I just have pedal points, and without the voices -- it was not pretty. I borrowed a score, and I'm going to go through and write the damn vocal parts in. The next cellist will be glad, I suppose.

Now I am really really really hoping to play the whole thing.

The first part of rehearsal was spent going over the libretto and the story. In pretty excruciating detail, and I couldn't even talk about all of the bizarre references/use of Vergil that were coming up. She talked a bit about opera as spectacle along with a play in the 17th century, but unfortunately, the version of Measure for Measure that interpolates Dido never came up. Although the "Spaniards with jack-o-lanterns" did. And that was kind of fun.
ricardienne: (chord)
In other words, guess who didn't realize she had left her music behind until 5 minutes before we were due to start, and ended up holding up the entire concert for a couple of minutes while she and her stand-partner frantically xeroxed "Sheep May Safely Graze"?

I nearly died of shame and was seriously considering some sort of ritual suicide with my endpin. Well, maybe not seriously considering it.

But the concert was actually pretty good. Quite good. Mozart 40 is a great piece, and we did do a good job. This isn't going to go up there with Mahler #1 or Brahms #1 or Prokofiev #5 or Sibelius #2, or Pines of Rome, but… almost.
ricardienne: (chord)
Was not horrible, tonight.

During the Idomeneo overture, I actually started to enjoy myself. In the places where the violins weren't screwing up their runs it sounded good, and hitting those V-I cadences really felt good. That's the best part of playing cello, I think, in orchestra. Bass lines! Wheee!

The other cellist had to leave midway for a chemistry study group, which left me be the entire section for the second half. And you know what, I enjoyed it. I'm horrible: I pretend to be a team player, to be a humble section-member, to not want solos etc etc, but secretly, I really playing alone, being noticed. Of course, it means that I have to play all the right notes, but I managed quite well, thank you very much.

Sadly, our concertmaster is out with tendonitis. This is really too bad, as he was not just a good player, but a good leader, and actually led the strings… it's really pathetic when the principal cellist has to be the one to comment that the violins might be better together if they were lifting for the double-down bow, and so not ending up at the tip, I think.

During Latin today, I brought up "redoubtable" as an example of this older secondary meaning of "fear" that is connected with to doubt. Granted, it's pretty much archaic, now.

According to the OED, it's the "II" definition, and is a "a development of the verb in OF., was an early and very prominent sense of the vb. and its derivatives in ME." Which is not very helpful. The professor couldn't tell me anything more; I shall ask my literature professor tomorrow. Because I just don't see the connection.

Okay. Doubting --> uncertainty --> suspicion -->apprehension --> fear(?) Maybe.

About redoubt(ed)(able), however, it can tell me that it also comes from the French, and has an Old Italian cognate: ridottare. So to me this indicates that it's an early Romance branching off, where "dubitare" gets this extra meaning of fear, which, when intensified to "redubitare" becomes specific to fear. But I want to know WHY! And HOW! Sort of like the distinction of respectful vs. informal in the second person singular: why? When? How? Argh. So many questions.

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