Friday, October 16, 2015

Playing Music Is Easy

Tonight was our first concert with Jonathan Cohen, playing Handel, Bach, Mozart & Haydn with Violons du Roy.

It is now late I am too tired to write a lot, but I have to say something about this experience.

It is always a revelation of some kind to play with Violons du Roy.  They are so serious, so loving, so fun.  Since Bernard has been ill and now recovering, there have been many guest conductors and I have met a few when I come as guest principal bassoonist.

I love playing with VdeR, but whenever I return to any orchestra after an extended run of solo playing (just finished a Maritime tour with my chamber group THREE), I always worry about the transition from speaking in a solo voice to singing in the chorus. 

And sometimes, as my friend Valdy, says, playing classical orchestral music makes me feel like I’m being shot at. 

But not this week.

Tonight, as we all left the stage, I was surrounded by musicians talking, laughing, walking with buoyant steps.  More than one musician said they would like to play the concert again, i.e. tonight!  And then our excellent second horn, Louis-Pierre Bergeron, said something like, “ wow, it’s easy to play music!” and we laughed, because, despite the very high standards and the striving, it WAS easy tonight. 

Jonathan Cohen sat at the keyboard, supplying continuo and gesturing fluidly and alertly and transmitting, listening, floating and guiding the musicians in a way that I am at a loss to describe yet which each and every musician recognizes as the real thing, immediate, and absolutely natural.  The kind of natural that is born of an alert mind and exquisite craft, honing of skills and thoughts.

I could say more but I really have to go to sleep as we are going to play the same concert in Montreal tomorrow at the Salle Bourgie (October 16, 2015).  If you can come, you will be very happy that you did.  I know that I am.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Solitary Refinement - Hotel Room Practising

All traveling musicians have to practice in hotel rooms.

Mid-June, 2015, I was just returning from Ottawa where I had premiered my newest concerto commission with 13 Strings & Kevin Mallon (Silver Angel by Constantine Caravassilis) and played Vivaldi G Minor RV 495.  I was between houses, so I booked into the Holiday Inn near the Royal Conservatory and near my son’s school.  On June 16, I said good-bye to my son and then practiced for an hour before driving to Waterloo for another rehearsal.  

I was in the midst of my current chromatic interval routine, my Major Third Chromatic Up-Down Fill-Ins and Up-Down intervals and in the fastest and highest phase of the slurred intervals.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to the Blog

I have never stopped thinking, albeit a tiny thread of a thought, about my blog.... my life has been so, well.... life-y!  in the past year... tours with classical and folk musicians, first art show in 5 years, selling house, moving to apartment, waiting for rezoning a church, couch surfing, touring, looking after elderly father and family, teaching, moving into my church, premiering new concerti...

I've been in my new place for 6 weeks and I am happy.  My church is the place I've always wanted... it's like I am living in a concert hall with a really good backstage...and my bed is in the same room as the grand piano.  This must be why I live alone, who else could tolerate such weirdness!?  I am still doing all the things I've ever done, including playing concerts, helping my fantastic, iconic, frail-former-superhero father, touring, recording (today, finishing my THREE disc with Lesllie Newman and Guy Few at Maureen Forrester Recital Hall in Waterloo).  Yet it's better now...I have a studio home smack in the downtown core of a small town, steps from the postoffice, surrounded by kindly neighbours and the wafting fragrances of different types of farms.   I'm on the highway a lot to be in different big cities, which is exactly how I like it.

And between unpacking boxes and practising, I am grabbing some time to learn about the phenomenal tools available to musicians and artists these days, following a 9 week free course by the incredibly experienced and dedicated Ariel Hyatt of Cyper PR and learning something mind-glowingly relevant every day, sometimes twice per day.

So life is still very life-y, but I am enjoying all of it... here is the back of my former church/new studio.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Family Day 2015

I visited my Dad on Family Day.

I left Toronto with a truck full of groceries from the Korean supermarket next to my Toronto apartment and drove north in record cold temperatures (not really that cold) and the blazing sun that slowly morphed into a magenta and golden sunset as I neared Parry Sound.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? (Programming and Presenting Classical Concerts in Many Settings) - small thoughts

For classical musicians (and everyone else), this is a question that comes up, but never in those exact words.

For example, when someone asks you to present a concert for them, they both want to know the answer to this question and then, either support or challenge your response.

The important thing is to have a response.  And to like your own response at a fundamental level.  If people are then willing to pay you for your response, even better!  But the order of thought is really bloody important.