Monday, November 07, 2011

Farewell to October!

Arts Center at Dusk
And I'm back.

October was an inordinately busy month for me.  It started off with a brief vacation to Florida, which I've already written about.  It was followed by rehearsals and performances with the Kansas City Symphony (under the name of the Kansas City Ballet) in the wondrous new performing arts center.  It completed last weekend with the traditional fall contest for the Fountain City brass band.

Performing with the symphony was a treat.  Certainly among the more challenging of the musical opportunities I've had over the years.  The music itself was a pleasure to play.  It was very approachable and listenable, with hints towards movie scoring, homages to American composers like Copland and Gershwin, and beautiful melodies.

As is always the case with musical opportunities down in the orchestral pit, there was nothing to see.  I never once saw a dancer in costume.  In fact, the only time I saw dancers at all was if I squished up against the front of the pit to look back at the stage while the dancers were warming up (I could see their torsos, which isn't as interesting to watch as feet).  I also met a dancer in the elevator one day, between our entrance at the fourth floor and his exit on the third.  He played trombone in high school -- and that's as far as we got in conversation.  I never ran across him again.

Luckily, I had opportunities for friends and relatives to come and attend.  They explained how costumes looked, what was happening during the dramatic lighting changes, and what everyone was laughing about at the start of the second act.  If only they had video footage available for us to watch later, but I suppose that has copyright and privacy issues, as well as performance rights and quality control.  Ah well; sometimes high school productions have the better tools available.

The preparations for the brass band trip were as usual: preceeding our departure, we have approximately a week's worth of four-hour rehearsals every night.  This year, it was complicated by the fact that our regular rehearsal location was hosting a play, so alternate locations were found across the city and even as far as Topeka one night.  It's a long drive after a 10pm rehearsal, with work the next morning.

And yes, I did continue my "day job" during all of these.  I cut back my hours, whether by design or simple oversleeping.  I tried to focus on the essential problems while on the clock, but inevitably some things slip through the fingers, or demand time from rehearsal.  There just weren't enough hours in the day.

But the rehearsal paid off: we were awarded first place in the 2011 U.S. Open.  We also took best soloist and best percussion section.  It was a satisfying process.  We rehearsed well, keep the tempers more in check than at other times, and came together with a cohesive product.  It was well received in the hall, too.

Now I'm relaxing into November.  I need to schedule a time to give a masterclass at one of the local universities -- the professor asked me in September and I told him "I'll contact you in November."  He laughed -- I didn't.

And I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving, which will be a type of holiday that is a rarity in my family: several branches of family at the same gathering.  My relatives from the west coast and Southwest will be coming in to join family from the Midwest and perennial friends from the local area.  It should be a fantastic day -- I think more than 12 are expected, which is a lot from a not-so-big family. 

I'll see what I can do to be a bit more regular in my contributions.  I don't like leaving this unattended for long periods.  I mean to be more active.

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