Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Concert news

Maylin's in bed early! Yay! She fell asleep at around 10 pm -- that hasn't happened in awhile. Often, she can stay up until midnight without having a meltdown. It makes it rather convenient if we have people over for a late dinner.

Anyways, it's been ages since I've written, and I'm already feeling withdrawal symptoms. I apologize for the delay, but I've been completely wiped out from nearly a week's worth of very poor quality sleep due to Maylin's sickness (she's fine now) and then due to her own manipulation of Mommy. She would start waking up at 3 am, or 5 am, and would ask for water every hour or so. Most recently, two nights have involved requests of pre-daybreak toast. One night, I had to listen to, "Mommy, I want toast," in a whiney, crybaby voice repeatedly for almost 10 minutes straight. One time, she just said, "toastie, " which was cute, for awhile...

Friday, I was not feeling well. I thought I had caught Maylin's bug and was trying to take it easy -- I wanted to be 100% by concert Sunday. But I did have a dress rehearsal scheduled for that night. I called the director to ask what he'd prefer -- to have me stay home and keep the germs to myself, or to come anyway. It turned out that the cellist was definitely not coming, the one person who could've at least covered some of my part -- so, I had to cover for her. The director seemed eternally grateful that I was able to help him out despite my poor health.

I rested on Saturday, and cleaned on Sunday before the concert in preparation for the babysitter's arrival that afternoon. The concert was at 5 pm, and I knew Maylin could not make it through, like her usual angel self, during that very difficult hour, which was sometimes nap time, and sometimes dinner time. Anyways, she would've been either hungry or tired -- there was "disaster" written all over it, so I hired the sitter.

At 3 pm that Sunday, John and Maylin helped me set up my digital piano, which can go from harpsichord to Baroque organ with the press of a button (thank goodness I didn't sell this great instrument when I bought my baby grand in the States -- this was before we knew we were going to move to Paris). The concert venue was at a church, but was not in the chapel, visible from the street at ground level. We were actually performing in a much larger worship space under the chapel (another "thank goodness": I suggested that we put up signs saying that the concert was down below -- I later found that these signs were very helpful, otherwise my friends might have left in confusion!). Things were a bit disorganized, especially since we didn't actually have our dress rehearsal at the church!!! I see it as a requirement to have your final big, big rehearsal before a concert at the actual concert venue to look for ideal places to set up, to get used to the different acoustic, etc.

The concert went well, as a whole. The audience really enjoyed it. Some people gave us a standing ovation -- crazy people (just kidding). I had about 17 friends show up, with four of them under the age of 6. The youngest ones had to leave during intermission, but they were great during the first half.

Yes, I'm a perfectionist, so I have all these criticisms. I'm sorry, but you'll have to hear them. The first thing that happened out of the ordinary was the director taking one of the soprano-bass duets super-fast! I almost broke into a sweat, and the singers probably nearly collapsed. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but this director likes to take things super-slow normally, so we were in a bit of a shock. I think he was a little excited. The other thing, that I've seen happen with other conductors, was a wrong cue. During one bass aria, after a period of rest for the singer, the director cued the bass to come in a measure too early and, unfortunately, the bass, who knew better, fell for it. While this disaster was happening, I was thinking, "Please let this be as painless as possible. Let the agony end soon." Fortunately for all of us, it was a short phrase that ended within 8 bars or so. I think we all let out a big, communal sigh of relief. Following the intermission was one of the Vivaldi guitar concertos. It would have been quite nice if the second violin didn't happen to be out of tune for the fast movements. She was perfect during the slow movements. In another usually very beautiful soprano-bass duet, the oboes completely lost control -- I would have much rather preferred having geese honk instead of having the oboes there. Yeah, that's too harsh. I don't think it was really all their fault. They didn't get a chance to warm up their instruments properly beforehand. Come to think of it, I don't think they warmed up at all. They should've been allotted some time to warm up in that very cold church (much of the audience remained in their coats for the entire concert -- how I envied them).

Enough of my gripe session. The singers were really great -- I'm proud of them. And the concertmaster was flawless. During the final bows, the director motioned to have me come to the front and stand with the singers. I thought that was rather unconventional but I was flattered just the same. Even though I had my complaints, I enjoyed doing the whole concert immensely. I'd do it again, even with all its flaws. I thought the music chosen was really exquisite. Most of it was Bach cantata material, and you know, I'm such a fan of that guy.

ADDED Wednesday, April 13
[I did forget to say that I was a little insecure of my entire performance, only because I could not hear myself at all! When I had the organ setting, the sound went into the church but never came back to me, or it did, but I couldn't hear myself over the orchestra and singers. So that was a little scary. I had to put all my trust into my fingers.]

I almost forgot to mention the strangest thing that happened during the concert. Okay, imagine this very live acoustic in this underground church. Any sound you make is amplified 5 times maybe. Or the sound is at least carried for a longer time. So, right before one of the pieces started, some person lets out the biggest fart ever from the back of the audience. We were all so incredulous that no one laughed! To me, it sounded fake -- like a whoopie cushion or something -- but later reports confirmed that it was the real thing. It was said that the event occurred in the more elderly section of the audience. Great, something I get to look forward to during the golden years. Oh wait, I remember what that's like. Anyone who's ever been pregnant, or has been in constant, close company with a pregnant woman, is familiar with this.

I'm running out of steam now, so I think I'll go to bed. Look forward to reading about my metro escapade soon. Boy, I love the metro. I could write a whole book just about the metro.

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