February 2008

Listening for that still, small voice...

February 29, 2008 02:11

I just received a call today from a Polish woman living in Herndon, Virginia regarding playing with the Concert Artists of Baltimore next week - and it would have been quite nice to do so, as I would have been sitting assistant concertmaster for a concert that includes Strauss' "Bourgeois Gentilhomme" and Brahms Violin Concerto. Nice for not having taken an audition, no?

Well, unfortunately I cannot do the concert, as I am "otherwise engaged". This has been the state of the state for the entire month of February, as this was the THIRD call that I've received regarding playing in the Baltimore/DC area that I had to turn down. I guess that's life as a freelancer, no? It would have been nice to have taken these engagements, as I would be AT HOME, something that I find myself relishing more and more.

Why I have the desire to be "in my space" I do not know - perhaps it is due to having bounced around a lot over the past three years, perhaps it is due to finally having moved into an apartment in Baltimore and the desire to "set up shop" for a while. Nevertheless, here I am, and while I will not see that apartment until April I do have to say that I am grateful for what I have in front of me in terms of work, variety, and new directions.

Of course, this has happened before - many years ago. In 1998, shortly after returning to Houston after a great summer in Breckenridge, Colorado with the National Repertory Orchestra I found myself with two orchestral weeks and an audition for which to prepare. Having been called many times by the Houston Ballet, I called the personnel manager (on the advice of a dear friend in the orchestra) and let him know my availability. He did call back with some services - but I was getting ready to take an audition...that I did not win (although when I came home from that audition I had to return a call to Fergus Scarfe who was at the time the admissions director or something of that effect of the New World Symphony, finding out that I had been accepted into the orchestra, which required moving to Miami Beach within two weeks).

It also happened in the summer of 2000 when, while at Spoleto Festival USA, I was asked by a conductor to be his assistant at a music festival for the rest of the summer. I had a quartet audition to take...which I did not win, and life took what I see now - and saw then - to be an incredibly beneficial turn (as I sit in a hotel room planning my press release mailing, which will take place sometime next week).

Again in 2002 - just as I was about to move to New Orleans to start with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, I received a call from the Mayo-Hill School of Modeling, which is associated with the Neal Hamil Modeling Agency. I had been accepted after going to an open call...

AHHH...what can I say? It's important to be still, to be available...and it is equally important not to let "overwhelming necessity" in the form of needing money, feeling that one "has to move forward" (win an audition and leave a city in which there is a school from which one has recently graduated so that one does not feel like a "loser"), etc., force us into making choices as opposed to trusting our souls.

Yet it is difficult to sit still, particularly in a society wherein having an overbooked calendar is taken as a symbol of worldly success - and moreso in a society where trusting one's instincts (the still, small voice that leads us all) is almost frowned upon. Nevertheless, while I have no regrets I'm finding myself wanting to sit still for a while, to take the edge off so that I can hear that little voice again and follow it...

...but duty calls.

11 replies | Archive link


Kyung Wha Chung

February 9, 2008 20:20

Arguably one of the greatest musicians in the world, Kyung Wha Chung:::

//www.youtube.com/v/yGKgOupkQqw&rel=1">

4 replies | Archive link


More on Marin

February 7, 2008 00:12

With the amazing responses to my last entry about Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony, I thought it prudent to share another article, this one published in a January issue of The New Yorker in which Alex Ross speaks of her appointment, her trailblazing activities and their success, and the programmatic innovations taking place across the country.

Interesting stuff - anxious for sharing,
Sam

2 replies | Archive link


Inspiration - and Ominous Words

February 4, 2008 11:58

In The Power of Myth, Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell speak of moments time during which we as humans are rendered speechless - the only thing usually said in those moments being "Ah...Oh..." As a musician I am grateful to have experienced many moments like that, and one of them was last night while listening to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.


The BSO will be playing in Carnegie Hall on February 9, 2007 and, while presenting a different program from the one about which I write here, it was so inspiring and indeed humbling to hear one of the world's greatest ensembles in top musical form on the eve of such an important event, as this upcoming concert is also Marin Alsop's Carnegie Hall debut. On Saturday, February 2, 2008 the repertoire was all American: Duke Ellington's "Harlem", Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" and Mark O'Connor's "American Seasons" with Mr. O'Connor as soloist.

During the Ellington, I found myself fantasizing: would it not be amazing to hear this piece performed with the string section of any world-class orchestra and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra sitting in for the winds and brass? This dreaming of mine was not in any way a reaction to the musicmaking that I heard, as the players of the BSO delivered solid, convincing, and exciting performances of Ellington's riffs. "Appalachian Spring", a bit of a string showpiece, was equally as exciting, with solos played masterfully by Jonathan Carney, and the piece ended so peacefully - one could say that destiny was accomplished on Saturday night at the Meyerhoff. Mr. O'Connor's very free bowarm and joyful fiddling rounded out a splendid evening - a highlight of which included the audience almost clapping at the end of his improvised cadenza (yes, it was like being at a jazz concert!).

Having played under Ms. Alsop as a student, first at the National Orchestral Institute and later while a fellow at the New World Symphony, it has been thrilling to watch her career unfold, and I do have to say that both rehearsals and performances under her direction were quite thrilling and fulfilling. Nevertheless, it has been somewhat puzzling to read the various reactions to her tenure in Baltimore. In a recent article published in The Urbanite Magazine, former Baltimore Sun music critic Steve Wigler writes very candidly about the history of orchestras, orchestral funding, and the current situation of many of our nation's ensembles. While there are many enlightening points in Mr. Wigler's article, titled "Selling the BSO"- some that shed a much different perspective into contract negotiations that have taken place during the past ten years - Mr. Wigler speaks in a somewhat ominous manner when referring to Ms. Alsop's tenure in Baltimore as well as
"the orchestra as an institution." I invite you all to read and share your thoughts.

6 replies | Archive link


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