New Year, New Concert Sessions, New Possibilities

Yay — 2016!  The Christmas season was pretty good, musically.  Three concerts that went very well.  Highlands Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Toronto, but especially (and a little surprisingly) the Highlands Wind Symphony.  We nearly sold the house out, which is tonnes more audience than we’ve seen in a long time.  And the band played REALLY well.  It’s always a tough and fast adjustment to the Norther Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.  The sounds are so different.  But we did really well.  Particularly for ‘Christmas Lights’ that I conducted.  It’s a medley of various Christmas carols and tunes, with the Ukranian Carol present throughout.  The ending overlays it with ‘In dulci jubilo’ – almost like Berlioz in the ending of his overture to Benvenuto Cellini.  It’s really a lot of fun.

So then with 2016 — it begins anew.  Highlands Wind Symphony has had their first rehearsal this week and we’re sticking to a theme for this Spring concert:  An Afternoon at the Movies.  I’m going to be taking a second look at ‘Dances With Wolves’ – one of my favourite movie soundtracks in a pretty high quality highlights arrangement.

The Highlands Chamber Orchestra is also starting up this Friday and the core idea to our Spring concert will be concerti featuring orchestra members.  Flute Concertino by Chaminade, Havanaise for violin and orchestra by Saint-Saens, Concerto for two Horns by Vivaldi (rv 539), slow movement to Weber’s first clarinet concerto (that also features a gorgeous horn trio).  With also a possibility of a renaisance brass sextet and perhaps, if I can convince the soloist, a movement of a concerto for piano.

But wait – there’s more — that really vague post I did in the Fall about a new conducting opportunity… it’s back and can be identified now:  Counterpoint Community Orchestra.  Toronto’s LGBTQ community orchestra.  I played tuba with them years ago and in the Fall they let their long-standing conductor go.  This season will be filled three guest conductors, the first of which conducted them in a great Christmas/Holiday show in December.  The next conductor, a friend of mine, has already been confirmed.  That leaves one final opening and they will be announcing the position soon to take in applications.  Needless to say, I’m working on mine now.  I’m going to save the rest of this subject for a separate post.

For now — Happy Musical New Year to everyone.  See you in the rehearsal hall!

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And here we go!!!

We’re just a few days from September and the start of the 2013-14 music season and I’ve started already. A few weeks ago, Orchestra Toronto held a summer audition for two applicants for the open music director position. They were both pre screened and so were both really good. So much that the orchestra never sound so good. But boy, am I out of shape… especially for Tchaik 4. Whoa! Back to breathing and buzzing exercises!

Yesterday, I was a guest speaker giving a tuba techniques talk at Steve’s Music’s annual band clinic for school teachers. I talked about why I picked up the tuba in grade 9, why I loved it and what it takes to make great and quick strides on it when you’re starting out. I got some good questions from posture and position for small kids, to what to do about a really wet embouchure. And I got some good compliments too! It was fantastic! I can’t wait to do one of those again.

I also got the rental package for “Rhapsody in Blue” in the mail. Highlands Chamber Orchestra rehearsals start a week from today. I’m VERY excited about it. RiB is going to be a challenge to prepare for the November 23rd concert, but I know that the musicians are going rise to the occasion. They are as excited as I am!

Plus, at Steve’s, I picked up the scores and parts for “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” and “English Folk Song Suite” for the Highlands Wind Symphony. Both are band favourites of mine so I’m really looking forward to conducting them!

Next week, we kick it into high gear… Thursday, Orchestra Toronto is auditioning two more conductors and the Highlands Chamber Orchestra kicks off their season. It’ll be great to see everyone again and officially welcome Fall together!

Wrap up of the Holiday Season Concerts

Yesterday was the last one.  I suppose I didn’t do that many, really, but it’s been an intense few weeks of rehearsals and driving around.  I subbed into the York Symphony’s holiday concert (plus 2 rehearsals leading up to it) because their tubist suffered an injury and needed surgery on his knee.  Ouch. Continue reading

The start of a new season

A new concert season is well underway and I’ve finally got a minute, or weekend even, to post as update. As usual, there’s lots going on: a few gigs already, including the best Highlands Swing Band gig ever at Camp Wanakita. The chemistry and the acoustics were undeniable!! Blam!!

But the big thing new for me is conducting the new Highlands Chamber Orchestra! Wow. It’s a lot of fun! Glen Carter conducted the inaugural concert in the spring and now I’ve got the reigns. It’s such a fantastic musical and learning experience for me. We’re performing Finlandia, the Great Gate of Kiev (from Pictures at an Exhibition, Tushmalov’s version), Peer Gynt and a double concerto by Bruch for clarinet and viola. The concert is November 18th in Haliburton village.

Finally, Orchestra Toronto has expanded their season this year to include two additional concert which are repeats of the first and third programs. The year’s highlight for me is Tchaik 4 in February (and one of the repeated concerts which is great). For the first concert, I’m included in a piece call Morceau Symphonique from Franck’s Rédemption. Not a blockbuster, for sure, but a catchy tune and a chance to play some high stuff on my Eb – in unison with trombones. I’m going to post a separate entry on that piece alone as part of my series of rep for tuba. Keep an eye out for that in the next few days.

Oh — a final thought on Montréal: I was genuinely shocked to find out the Canadian audition yielded no winner. It’s gone international. I could have continued to practice for it! Lol

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.

Continue reading