Monday, April 21, 2014

Opportunity or exploitation?

I've made lots of mistakes in my musical life (let's not talk about my nonmusical life!). I've been offered playing opportunities that I turned down that probably would have been beneficial to me, and I've accepted others that turned out to be miserable and a waste of time.

At this stage, I frankly don't need whatever small amount of money I can earn doing random gigs, so whether something pays or not is beside the point. When asked to play somewhere now, I ask myself: Will this be fun, interesting, and/or challenging? Will I interact with new people who might prove to be stimulating in some way? Is it worth it just because it will get me out of the house?

I've recently had a few of these crop up, and after asking myself these questions I've accepted all of them. The first was a query from my piano teacher about playing at a school assembly with a couple of the faculty. The school is a small private school (what used to be called an "alternative" school), and the other musicians were amateurs with some musical training -- a trumpet player and a singer. Because (1) the request came from my teacher, whom I like very much; (2) it involved playing the piano in front of people, which is something I try to do as much as possible; and (3) the school is about a mile away from my house, I accepted immediately. We played a Handel aria, and it was fun to do. It was YouTubed:

The second is a concert at the Kennedy Center with an orchestra that plays a lot of tangos. I am playing only in once piece, a "Misa Tango" -- that is, a Catholic mass (Kyrie, Gloria, etc.) with music based on tangos. This will take place this coming Sunday. It sounds impressive to say "I'm playing at the Kennedy Center" but it actually can be a bit of a pain because of traffic, parking, and logistics. And sitting in the back of a cello section isn't my ideal. But something about this interested me.

Tango! Soul and Heart

And then I got an e-mail asking me to play principal in a string orchestra for this (click on the "Entertainment" tab):

Festa Italiana

The rehearsals are way out in Virginia somewhere, the music is difficult, and the pay is just a token. I mentioned it to a friend, saying it could be wacky but I'd know more after the first rehearsal, and he said "What part of 'exploitation' don't you understand?" But again, something about it interested me.

Finally, the amazing pianist Brian Ganz, whom I've mentioned here a few times, asked if I'd be interested in playing duos with a good friend of his who's an amateur pianist and a member of AMSF. She's even way-er out in Virginia than the string orchestra, though she's willing to drive to my house some of the time. But I like Brian, and she seems very nice, and I was able to answer "yes" to my three questions. We are going to work on some cello and piano duos and piano-four-hands music. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

This is all in addition to what I think of as my "personal" practicing. A lot to do … but certainly not boring.

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