It’s hard to believe, but yesterday marked the beginning of my 22nd season with the Oregon Symphony. Even though I’m closing in on the quarter century mark, there are still things that make me happy when I show up at the first rehearsal of the season.
First, my colleagues. Since we don’t have a summer season, the orchestra members scatter to the four corners of the globe doing summer festivals, vacations, and in some cases, other jobs. Because of this, we don’t get to see each other that much during our off time – even those of us who are close friends. Seeing everyone after the summer break is much like seeing one’s friends at school after the long break. It’s old home week, with lots of hugs and stories shared before rehearsal and during the break.
Second, the sound of a really great orchestra. With few exceptions, the summer festival orchestras we play in are not of the quality of the Oregon Symphony. They are fun, and good, but as festival orchestras, they are put together afresh each summer, often without the continuity of personnel that a full-time orchestra has. When we come back from the summer break, and I hear just how good we sound, even on the first day back, it makes me smile from the pleasure and pride of it.
Third, knowing I’ll be getting paid soon. Yeah, we don’t do it solely for the money, but the mortgage must be paid! In a less than 52 week orchestra, budgeting is a constant battle. Saving money from each paycheck to apply towards the summer bills, trying to figure out how much summer work there will be this year, etc. Some people rely on unemployment benefits to make it through the summer, but it has become so difficult to jump through all of the hoops that the state has in place that some of us – me included – have given up trying to collect benefits.
Today (Saturday), we perform at the Oregon Zoo in a program that has lots of audience favorites. The temperature will hit 99F today, with around 90 expected at concert time. Thankfully, no tuxedos or tails for us – it’ll be OSO polo shirts and slacks for us – and we have new water bottles to keep us hydrated, if not cool. Plus, there’s the 1812 Overture!
The first concert of the 40th annual 2017 Sunriver Music Festival took place last night. We started rehearsals Friday, and threw together a nice program. I’m just glad that we didn’t start with the usual Pops concert on the first day. This was much more humane, and gave the orchestra a little bit of time to get used to playing together again.
Today we have a day off, and it was one of the first cooler days that the Bend-Sunriver area has had in some time – it will not even crack 80F today! It’s been unusually hot in the Northwest this summer. I bring my bike to ride, but often our free time starts at 1pm and ends at 6pm, so activities outside are confined to the heat of the day. If we have some cooler weather, then it’s the perfect time to capitalize on it and get out on the road!
I did a 12 mile loop today on the eastern side of Bend, where my homestay is located. As I was navigating my way along some unfamiliar roads, my mind started to wander as it often does on rides. It’s one of the things that I love the most about cycling. My mind can clear and wander as I keep track of staying alive on the roads I travel. It’s a great stress reliever. I began to think about some topics and people that I want to include in my upcoming podcast. That’s right, I will soon be debuting my Nobleviola Podcast! My plan is to discuss topics that concern the inner workings of being a musician. I hope to include interviews with musicians from around the world, experts on
various aspects of performing, and my local colleagues in the Portland area. It’s an ambitious project, but one that I think will be even more interesting and valuable than my personal writings that have been featured here for the past dozen years are so.
I’m not giving up on writing – there will be at least as much writing involved for the podcast as for the written blog. I am looking forward, however, to evolving this platform from a very introverted, self-centric project to one that is more collaborative and inclusive. I’ve got some ideas about this that are too embryonic to share, but I’ll post about them as they come to fruition (if indeed they do). For now, I’ll continue periodically posting my usual content, and will provide updates on the launch of the podcast as things progress. Thanks for reading!
Jack Allen, the CEO of Allclassical Public Media (89.9FM, allclassical.org) has retired. Here is a link to the press release from the station. I was honored to serve on the board of directors from 2014 – 2017. Suzanne Nance, Vice President of Programming and On Air Host will step into the role of Interim CEO.
On Saturday morning I’m playing a children’s concert presented by the Seattle Chamber Music Society which features Peter Schickele’s (aka PDQ Bach) The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s a fun piece for narrator and mixed ensemble, and is my first chance since 1995 to perform with pianist Paige Roberts Molloy, with whom I last played chamber music at the Tanglewood Music Center (Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, coached by Leon Fleischer). I’m looking forward to this a lot!
Quick bulletin: if you don’t have plans for this Monday night (May 22), make a point of coming out to the Oregon Symphony’s closing classical concert of the season: Mahler’s Second Symphony. Judging by how the first two performances have gone, this final one should be epic. Onstage brass, offstage brass, brilliant woodwinds, amazing vocal soloists, teeming masses of roiling strings, a huge chorus – this piece has got it all. And to that guy who let out the “Whoop!” after the end of the first movement today, glad you could make it, and glad you loved it, buddy!
Enjoy some of the ‘big’ moments from various conductors:
This post’s title is definitely not click bait. I’ve been slowing my pace of posting over the past couple years, and if this continues at the present rate, I’ll be posting about once a decade five years from now! So, while this blog isn’t going on a formal hiatus, there most likely will be a distinct lack of updates for the foreseeable future. I welcome your comments and observations!