Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cello section!

The chamber orchestra I'm in played its second concert of the season this afternoon. The program was a bit more substantial than some we've done. It opened with "Tales From the Vienna Woods" (with two violins substituting for the zither part Strauss scored originally); next was Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol, which never fails to remind me of youth orchestra concerts, though I think our version was a little more mature; then after intermission, we played Vaughan Williams's "Fantasia on Greensleeves"; and we closed with Borodin's Symphony No. 2.

There was the usual quota of missed notes and missed connections and the familiar frustrations of playing in the poor acoustics of the church. But it felt good to play a concert nonetheless.

One of the other cellists just sent me a picture of the section, taken by my husband at intermission, with a request to post it on my blog, so here it is:

Tom, Liz, Karen, Liana, Frank, and Harriet
One little side note: for this concert, the orchestra hired a harp player (such are the ways of community orchestras that one reason for the choice of repertoire was to make sure each piece had a harp part). I was surprised to find that the harpist was someone I played with maybe 15 years ago with a chamber group. At the time, she was a star high school student, heading off to Curtis (which, in case you didn't know, is a crème-de-la-crème music school in Philadelphia that is full scholarship for all students, all four years). One would think that such a student would graduate and have offers pouring in for orchestra jobs (unless one knew that offers never pour in for orchestra jobs). But this harpist now plays with a local regional orchestra, does weddings and other gigs, and gives lessons. I suppose if she's happy that's fine, but it seems a little sad, somehow. She's still a very good player.*

*Someone pointed out to me that this could be interpreted as harsh. By "sad," I'm not talking about this person's life, which of course is not sad, but about the state of music education -- that even someone with the most stellar credentials has no particularly stellar place to go careerwise when they get out of school but must make his or her way just like the rest of us not so stellar ones. Biographies of famous musicians rarely describe providing background music for weddings but instead make artistic success sound inevitable. Maybe things are different now than when I was in school, but I never had a teacher who mentioned the cold realities one would face once one graduated.


Betty said...

Hi,I found your blog through Susan's (Spare Time) sewing blog. I am a former music student (clarinet major) who just returned to the piano after 20 years away from it. I was barely past the beginner stage when I stopped (barely passed my college piano proficiency final), but I always preferred piano to other musical pursuits. I look forward to reading your blog.

Harriet said...

Thank you, Betty. Good luck with the piano. It's a rewarding hobby -- maybe more rewarding than being a professional (because you can do whatever you want!).