2012 Year in Review

It’s the final day of 2012. I’ve been thinking about this blog entry for a number of weeks now. How would I sum it up? Then this morning, a friend on Facebook put up this status:

In 2012 well I learned a lot. lost a lot. gained a lot. Must say hardest year to date but I’m still smiling happy new year everyone and a happy 2013 to all!

Nailed it!

The year started out for me pondering a re-audition at the Glenn Gould School, and University of Toronto too. I gave it a lot of thought, talked with various teachers, weighed the financial implications and came to the conclusion that working on the RVW on a two or three month leave from my day job was going to accomplish a lot of what I wanted to do without the home and financial shake-up that going to school would bring. I wanted to get a recording of the complete concerto ready for Orchestra Toronto for consideration for the 2014-15 season.

Then there was the mass musician job openings with the Canadian Forces. I thought about that for a good while and worked on the first movement of the RVW to record and send in. Some orchestral excerpts too.

I also decided to attend Domaine Forget near Quebec City. I sent in the audition material and was accepted.

In the meantime, my mom got sick. We soon discovered that it was fourth-stage cancer and she didn’t have long to live. Her health deteriorated quickly and she passed away on Friday, June 1st. The funeral was the next week: right in the middle of Domain Forget. I had to cancel and they were kind enough to refund.

A few days before mom died, I found out about the Montreal Symphony’s open tuba seat. After the funeral, I decided I’d go for it. What’s the worst they could say and this might be the only chance in my lifetime to audition for Montreal. The date was early August and I had planned to take the last thee weeks of July off to work on the RVW. I thought all this was a sign to do it.

I practiced just about every day for a number of hours each. The audition list was long and tough. I ordered books of tuba rep and printed off parts from IMSLP. I listened to recordings over and over. My ears were probably not appreciating it but I was in the best shape of my career so far. Practicing does that. 😉

Then I hit a wall — an emotional and reality-check wall. I had been working through Eb tuba rep and was really happy about it. A decent part of the C rep was taking shape. I had one week left when I really started working on Fountains of Rome, and Mahler and Buckner symphonies. There’s no way I wasn’t going to sh*t all over these parts at the audition. I was on an emotional overload since my mom’s death. I wanted to make it mean something positive in my life. I stopped and cancelled my audition time and worked on the third movement of the RVW for the final week I had off.

I had used my reduced leave time to work on audition material for Montreal. I say “reduced” because it wasn’t the 2 months off I had originally planned. Granted, I worked on the second movement of the RVW because it was on the audition list, but the third movement was barely started. Not ready for a recording for Orchestra Toronto. On the bright side, my overall sound was fantastic.

I that time too, I got word from the Canadian Forces that I wouldn’t be going past the first stage of auditions. I was sorta hurt a tiny bit by that, but it didn’t phase me. I’m sure there was a pecking order with part-time forces musicians given preference, but it also means that my audition didn’t blow them away.

Finally, some purely good news: the Highlands Chamber Orchestra was born in Haliburton county. Glen Carter conducted us playing a few pieces in the Spring and we formed a board quickly afterwards based on the fantastic musician and audience feedback. I became music director and we selected pieces for our first feature concert in November. Rehearsals were up and down and we questioned if we had bitten off more than we could chew. We adjusted the program, hunkered down and the rehearsals went on a up turn. The concert exceeded all expectations! If I had to pick the highest point of 2012, that probably is it.

I finished off the year musically with a variety of concerts, including a Christmas double-bill subbing into the York Symphony. Christmas with my family was a little delicate without my mom but I spent some great time with my Dad. He’s doing well, if not a little lonely living on his own. He did something so special and touching… my Mom collected beautiful scarves to wear. Dad counted over 20 of them. Instead of giving them away to the second-hand store and having strangers own and wear them, he decided to give the scarves to the ladies in our family. He secretly asked spouses and fathers about colour matches and divvied them up. He gave the first ones away at Allen’s house when we were there for Christmas breakfast and there were instant tears.

Well, that just about sums up the year. What’s up for 2013? I haven’t thought it all through but I’m boldly calling it “The Year of Change”. First up: Berlioz’s “Les Troyens” at the cinema, performed live at The Met in New York. I’m very excited about it.

Happy new year everyone!

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