a stranger in a strange land

This morning’s Oregon Symphony rehearsal was my first in about five months. It was great to be back. Lots of nice greetings from my friends and colleagues are always appreciated! I didn’t miss my commute, however. Strange traffic problems that were compounded by various city construction projects that are being shoe-horned in due to our unseasonably dry weather we’re having.

The day began with me getting up at 6:30 so I would have time to do my prescribed stretches and get my scales in before I left the house. There is a decided lack of practice rooms at our hall, and they’re largely filled by all of the young hotshots of the orchestra by the time I get there, so if I’m going to do any quality work before a rehearsal, it has to happen early at home.

We have a guest this week – German conductor Clemens Schuldt, who is just fine, but I’m sitting last chair which means that looking up to see what’s going on is going to happen a lot more than when I’m sitting on the front stand. So there was a bit of an adjustment period as I figured out what the conductor’s various gesticulations actually meant, and also as I adapted to only being able to hear myself and the bass section for most of the rehearsal. I just play the first two pieces on the program, so I was able to leave after the first half of rehearsal ended, which left me with time to get errands done on the way home. By the way, I’m sitting in the back to avoid disrupting the section’s seating – if I were up on the first stand, someone would have to move up to take my seat – so in the back I am. I took this opportunity – being in the back with no one to share the stand with – to use my iPad for the rehearsal. It worked very well, and I like that there are easy ways to erase and put in new markings quickly. Will this be the future for symphony orchestras? It is already virtually di rigueur for young string quartets to play off tablets, so I can see a time in the not-so-distant future where orchestras might start to do the same.

It was interesting feeling what it was like in the orchestra after such a long absence. For one thing, even in an undemanding piece, playing in the orchestra requires such focus that it placed more physical stress on me than I was anticipating. Not too much, but enough to know that coming back for parts of concerts was the right approach. It would be easy to flame out by trying to start too fast. We’ll see how the week goes – I’m looking forward to it!

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