I Miss Orchestra

Orchestra Toronto had its 4th concert of its season a few weekends ago. It was pretty stellar! I was a little perplexed by the order: we opened the second half with the huge Holst and finished with the Ravel. IMHO, we should have finished with Jupiter. Oversized orchestra and the majestic C major finish.

In any case, the performance was fantastic. Denise on euph played really well. Trombones managed to step up their game even more! Wow!!

So now… They are rehearsing Beethoven’s 9th symphony. No tuba. ūüė¶ Though the tuba’s predecessor, the ophicleide, existed for a number of years, Beethoven did not use it in any of his compositions, to the best of my knowledge. Not too long after the 9th symphony, Mendelssohn and Berlioz used the ophicleide (and serpent, even) in two iconic compositions: Midsummer Night’s Dream and Symphonie Fantastique, respectively.

But alas, no tuba for me in the grand 9th. I miss my orchestra pals. But I’m keeping myself good and busy: I’ve working on the RVW concerto intensely. Melissa Stephens and I have been reading through it together. I also worked it with a metronome last weekend. That definitely helped expose a few tempo changes that have sneaked in over the years of practicing it. But I feels great to play it through a number of times, then rip apart a few bars, put them back together and go from the top again. It’s sounding really good!

And I approached Danielle Lisboa about OT playing it (or another concerto, even) in two seasons. She going to speak with the programming committee. I would like to submit a recording to them in the fall and I feel really confident about that. So, I’d better get back to practicing!

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The Amateur Musician and Dynamics

I’ve had some recent encounters with the sometimes-awkward relationship between amateur musicians and dynamics. ¬†From my perspective (IMHO), it’s often about brass musicians not playing loud enough – not realizing the impact fortissimo¬†really should make.

I think it comes down to three things: self-confidence, self-perception and embouchure comfort zone. I think those are also in order of increasing ease to fix – i.e. the last on the list is the easiest to fix.

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Ravel’s ‘La Valse’ – A Tritone-lover’s Paradise

Orchestra Toronto is in the nearing the end of rehearsals for its 4th concert of this season (the last for me though), which includes Ravel’s La Valse. What a great piece of music from the same guy who brought us ‘Bol√©ro’. This piece, sometimes characterized as the birth, life and death of a waltz, is as much fun to play as it is to listen to. There are so many tuba-ego spots where I can totally shine. But it also a surprising challenge to play well. Continue reading