Thursday, 23 September 2010

Stuck in Saarbrücken after the French railway workers have decided not to run any trains today - at least I've got a reservation on the German train to Paris at 15.01 and hopefully Eurostar will still let me on something back to London. So far it's not been so bad: after a visit to the station to decide what I should do, I returned to the hotel for a second breakfast with Josué and Nora, who pointed out to me the freshly-squeezed orange juice that I'd missed the first time. And now the train station has free wireless internet and I've just done my good deed for the day by looking up the connecting trains for two women in the same boat as me. (Hmm- I do hope that's the only mention of boats in this journey but at this point who knows...)

Last night's concert was very well received but I found it much more difficult than the night before. It had ups and downs. A big boomy church made for a narcissistic experience playing my solo trombone piece: I played very quietly and intimately, knowing that the sound would still feel immediate up in the balcony, but the ensemble pieces were difficult because I could hear the people beside me so loudly that the cornetti two and three meters away sounded like they were in the next room - sightly unnerving. It did at least provide a good opportunity to practise looking up from the music more, but the act of finding a groove (in the densely contrapuntal pieces where groove was appropriate) is too much an aural and visceral thing to leave to glances alone, and if we did find a groove now and again it lacked relief.

But the hardest thing was that I was exhausted: it was the 6th concert in 6 days, and the only one which involved waking up relatively early, sitting in a car for four hours, eating, rehearsing and playing the concert with no proper down time and no espresso on hand to compensate for the lack of down time. As a result, I played all the sad and sultry pieces very expressively (fortunately my solo piece was one of these), but couldn't quite get excited about the lively and extroverted ones.

All in all, it's been a great week though, playing all my favourite music with my favourite people, again. I could get used to this. Seeing another possibility looming around the weekend, I just sent an email begging for a single rehearsal of some Adson Ayres I am to perform on Monday night in a cornetto and sackbut quintet. Contemplating a performance of playing-it-safe non-phrasing and non-dynamics, and considering it fair enough to be slightly cheeky as I was forced to beg, I also gently reminded the organizers that it's unlikely that we'll play our best without rehearsing together and that normally I charge extra for forsaking the pleasure and satisfaction of being able to play my best.

The situation reminds me of a competition the CBC had to complete the phrase "As Canadian as...." Touché won over cliché as the beaver, ice hockey, and maple syrup were ousted by "As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances." Commendable except when the circumstances aren't actually beyond one's efforts to improve...

The train will be here soon - at last. On to rereading and reacting to a chapter from an exciting book on Rhetoric and Early Music which will be sent off for publishing soon. Having read, thought about, and played with ideas since my first reading in May, I'm curious to see if my reactions will have changed.

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