Monday, May 07, 2007

After the concerts

On Saturday Erin, my mom and I and our cellist and pianist friends went up to Nakusp to play a repeat performance of some English music to accompany slides and poetry readings from the British Isles. We had a dress rehearsal before, playing in various duo, trio and quartet combinations, then dinner and an evening performance. It was well-received as always.

Then on Sunday it was the community orchestra dress rehearsal and performance. The orchestra really came through. Among other things, we had been rehearsing three movements from a contemporary suite by Donald Coakley called "Directions North," based on Canadian folk tunes. The first movement was easy -- just a fast fiddle tune with lots of repetition and a simple fugal element. The second movement is a lovely adagio with interesting harmonies and a few contrary rhythms and 5/4 to 3/4 to 4/4 time signature changes. This movement was at about the right difficulty level for the orchestra. The third movement, entitled "Old Grandma", is in a composite 7/8 time, divided out 3/8+2/4, except that just when you get used to this it goes into 2/4, then throws in a few 3/8 bars in a row, and then into 3/4. Heinous to conduct, and as recently as a week and a half ago it seemed well beyond the orchestra's ability to play. At our second last rehearsal we'd discussed what a good learning piece it had been -- because I was about to cut it from the programme. But then in our last-ditch effort we almost made it through without falling apart -- so we decided what the heck, we'd play on the concert. And what do you know -- at the dress rehearsal we got through without any major glitches. Amazingly enough we repeated the feat at the performance. What a crew!

The orchestra did a not-very-good job of accompanying Erin on the Mozart G Major 1st violin part, but at least she had the long Franko cadenza in which to strut her stuff unimpeded by the faltering section violins. She did a great job. Her recently-retired teacher came all the way up from Nelson for the performance with her husband, and brought Erin flowers and gave them to her after her Mozart. How sweet!

Noah and his quartet did a pretty nice job of their four quartet selections. They looked very professional and carried themselves well. If they stay together they'll go far, these kids. The New Denver Suzuki String Ensemble did a pretty nice job of the (original version of the) Pachelbel Canon in D.

Noah played the first two movements of the Telemann viola concerto in G as soloist with the orchestra (his buddy P. played the other two). Both boys did wonderfully and the whole Telemann sounded great; the orchestra really likes playing this music too.

After the performance we came home and had a really nice time. I had invited Erin's violin teacher and husband, and my mom, over for dinner. The kids were crazy-happy, giggly and incredibly talkative. W. and V. seemed to really enjoy themselves, and I think really liked getting to know the kids a bit better and seeing them in their home environment. I pulled Sophie up short when she was about to launch into one of her goofy Stephen Harper diatribes with a stage-whispered "perhaps our guests are Harper supporters" and this resulted in much hilarity. Truth be told, despite the fact that the wine was mostly "kids' wine" (sparkling fruit juice), there was an awful lot of hilarity.

We ate lots of curry, dal and samosas, pigged out on mocha semifreddo and sipped decaf, and the kids showed off the chicks. And we had a really nice visit.

Then W. once again encouraged Erin to consider calling to arrange some lessons if she felt like doing some good work on the violin. She had mentioned this back in early April when she 'retired', but we hadn't, I think, really caught the tone of the offer. At the time it sounded like come fall, she'd be willing to give Erin a lesson every month or two if it worked out. But it was pretty clear last night that while W. has "given up teaching" in the sense of no longer maintaining a rented studio in Nelson and no longer committing to be available every single week of the academic term, she is more than happy to continue to work regularly with a committed advanced student who could come to her home for lessons and who would understand if she's simply not available for a week or two or three from time to time.

I am leaving this decision up to Erin, but it feels like we've got a good option for the short-to-medium-term. Heck, her piano lessons have been a little spotty for years, much in the same way, and that's fine. So long as the longer-term consistency of teacher is there, occasional months without lessons are not a big deal. We'll see if Erin expresses interest in continuing with W.. I think she probably will.

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