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January 2004

January 28, 2004 15:29

A Big Orchestra In Town is holding auditions in March and because I’m insane and because I’d desperately love to be a part of that group, I’m giving it a go. Needing all the encouragement I can find, I have taken to heart a quotation I came across on the wall of my yoga studio. (They abound there – walls overflowing with wisdom!) I think it describes a healthy outlook for anyone undertaking an audition, recital, major performance or even for someone just starting to play the violin:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.

“All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

-- Goethe

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January 26, 2004 23:07

I just heard from some high school students who were in that "marching orchestra" from Odessa, Texas, for the New Year's Rose Parade. They did march in the parade! Just not with their violins and violas and cellos. Here is what one of the members wrote:

Hello!
I am a cellist from Odessa Texas. I am one of the members of Satin
Strings. I have known many people who are confused about the way that we
carry our cellos. Basically we tune the C string peg so that is flat, and
then hang the instrument on our neck by the peg. At first it's very
painful, but after awhile we get used to it. Plus the next year we get
to laugh at the faces that the new members make the first time they put the
cello on their necks.

We did march in the parade, we were just part of the Permian Odessa High
combined band. We had to learn how to march with the band in November. I
have a new appreciation for band members now ^_^. It's harder than it
looks!

Denisha Porter

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January 6, 2004 23:33

I just got my music for my next gig and it’s…surprise! Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony!

I just played this a month ago in a different orchestra, which is, nonetheless, in the same metropolitan area. In fact, I just played it last summer. And the season before last. And the summer before that. What is up with this? It would appear that Californians are stuck on Tchaik. Or maybe it’s more universal than this?

There are so many things I haven’t played recently that I would love to play, that I bet people would love to hear. Like, anything by Mahler. Or how about some Debussy? I haven’t played the Franck D minor Symphony since high school; it would be nice to do it justice. Haven’t played or heard Shostakovich First Symphony in some time – what a fun and mercurial piece. And those are just some of the more “accessible” pieces I can think of. What regional orchestra ever invites someone to play the Berg Violin Concerto?

This rash of Tchaik Five performances reminds me of a Dr. Seuss story I read to my children: “Too Many Daves.” A mother has 23 sons and she names them all Dave. The story goes on to list 23 other things she could have named her kids, things that bring to mind wildly varying world views and personalities: Bodkin Van Horn, Hoos-Foos, Snimm, Hot-Shot, Sunny Jim, Shadrack, Blinkey, Stuffy, Stinkey, Putt-Putt, Moon Face, Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face, Ziggy, Soggy Muff, Buffalo Bill, Biffalo Buff, Sneepy, Weepy Weed, Paris Garters, Harris Tweed, Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt, Oliver Boliver Butt, Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate…

“But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.”

All these orchestras, all these concerts, all this funding lined up to pay professional musicians, all the libraries full of scores, can’t anyone come up with an interesting plan? Or do we always have to stick to the safe “Dave” pieces, like Beethoven Five, Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto and Tchaik Five?

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January 1, 2004 23:11

Okay, where were the marching strings?

This New Year’s morning I dragged myself out of bed and walked two blocks up my street in Pasadena, Calif., where a sea of humanity was gathered for the Rose Parade. We live near the very end of the parade, where we can witness both broken-down floats and broken-down band members who have trekked nearly five miles only to find that around this corner, there is yet more to go. We made camp with some kind friends who had been saving a certain street corner for 18 years. Really! They have laid claim to the same place every year for that long, and now it pretty much belongs to them and their friends. They camp out starting early in the morning on New Year’s Eve.

Being at the end of the parade, the atmosphere where we were was far more casual than it was at the beginning, when all the floats, band members, twirlers, horses, dogs, cowgirls and cowboys, princesses, political figures and celebrities emerge fresh and ready for the T.V. cameras. Here we witness flag girls grimacing from their unending walk in two-inch heels, vans carrying the marchers who passed out along the way, broken floats being towed, and a general breakdown in decorum. My favorite this year – so symbolic of how some of these young marchers must feel -- was a giant float of a “one-man band,” with the man purposely “decapitated” for going under a highway bridge.

I waited and waited and waited for my Satin Strings of Permian High School in Odessa, Texas, who had so impressed me with their “marching” orchestra. But I guess they were not part of the parade after all, and my apologies. They must have come all the way from Texas just to play for the directors’ banquet. Still, I think it’s great that the school orchestra got to come to the Rose Bowl. Woo-hoo!

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