Saturday, September 10, 2005

10 Aug 05: A stronger double bass section

Thanks for your patience, here's more about how I have spent my time in Aberdeen in August.

10 Aug 05:

Rehearsal for the festival orchestra was in the morning. I was feeling rather tired in the morning, and I suppose it was because I had slept late the night before. I am amazed by those of my orchestra-mates who have stayed up much later than I do. I wonder how they could endured late nights without feeling tired the very next day.

The place where rehearsal for the festival orchestra was held.

In the morning, I met R.. R. will be playing for the the festival orchestra gala concert with us. If my ears had heard correctly, I heard from MC that R. will be taking his "A" levels examinations later this year.

For the morning rehearsal, I shared the same desk with R.. This meant that R. was my stand partner for that morning. He played well, good sight-reading. When I was of his age, I don't think I could have managed those difficult passages from Brahms. When I was of that age, I was still playing the double bass in Chinese orchestras but have yet been playing in a symphony orchestra. Many of the times, when I see people younger than myself played better than I had been when I was of that age, I felt a sense of having lost time. Then again, seeing them playing better than when I was of their age motivated me that if I were to continue to practise diligently, I could still make up for the time lost.

After lunch, K. came. K. used to be studying under P. (our double bass tutor for the festival orchestra). I could not figure out how to spell her unique name until the night before the gala concert. She has quite a unique name, and I have not known anyone by that name. Whatever it is, it is a nice feeling to know that we would have a stronger double bass section for the gala concert with K. and R. joining us.

K. needed scores, so I helped her with it. I looked for the people from the festival's music department, and M. was helpful to assist me. While on the way to find the scores, M. was so nice to compliment me for my playing of The Elephant the night before. He even hummed a short section of the tune from The Elephant. I was flattered. *Blush.*

So thanks to M.'s help, we managed to find enough scores for everyone in the section. Upon the request of MC, the double bassists took a group photo.

Initially, K. shared the desk with MC. Later, P. came by during the afternoon rehearsal. While I did not freak out from P.'s presence, there was a slight sense of pressure felt when the tutor was around. Thank goodness, it was not a negative form of presure. I was able to try to be as focused as possible when playing during the rehearsal. Then we have a break half-way the afternoon rehearsal.

During the break, P. suggested that K. would share the stand with me, and I would be the principal for the section. K. has such better sight-reading skills too. Feeling not as competent, I actually suggested if K. would like to be the principal instead, but she declined. Reflecting, I wish I had not have put myself down. So I shall be thankful that K. was thoughtful to decline.

By 10 Aug 05, concert was drawing very near. The festival orchestra's gala concert was to be held on 12 Aug 05. Participants from various groups came together to form the festival orchestra. Getting people from various parts of the world together to make music in itself is something remarkable.

While rehearsing, I was feeling a sense of inadequacy. I have yet to master Brahms' Second Symphony. It was a little depressing for myself to feel this way. I could only try to lift my spirits up by doing whatever possible I could to play the symphony as best as I could. Actually, I was feeling inadequate as a principal of the festival orchestra, attempting to lead the section in Brahms' Second Symphony. I haven't been feeling that way when I was playing Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony or the Mendelssohn's Fingals Cave, but I felt that inadequacy when I played Brahms' Second Symphony. I hope I haven't like Brahms' music so much that I have became as self-critical as he had been.

Anyway, P. joined in the rehearsal and he shared the desk with MC after K. came to share the first desk with me. By the end of the rehearsal, he told us that he would play with the rest of us (i.e. K., MC, R., XM and myself) for the festival orchestra gala concert. Yes, a stronger double bass section. P. knew the parts well. Good playing from him.

In the evening, we attended the concert performed by the Young Sinfonia. Here's a short brief about the Young Sinfonia that I have taken from the festival's booklet:

Young Sinfonia is the award-winning youth orchestra of the North of England. It was set up in 1996 as a chamber orchestra of around 35 players, through a donation from Dame Catherine Cookson. Since then, the orchestra has grown in stature and reputation across the region and beyond.

The concert was held at the Beach Ballroom. Here's the programme:

  • BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 7
  • VILLA-LOBOS - Sinfonietta No. 1 in Bb
  • SCOTT STROMAN/ NAME - Number Two: Jean

To catch the concert, I took the festival bus from the hostel to the Beach Ballroom with many other members from our orchestra. I had wanted to listen to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. I remember that there was a difficult passage for the double bass in that symphony.

Beach Ballroom, like its name has suggested, is located near the beach. I love the beach of Aberdeen. The seaglls, and the cool breeze. Please click on this link for some photos of the beach.

Young Sinfonia's players are technically good individually. Their double bassists played in tune and were all technically competent. I have no clue where to find much fault in them (the players from Young Sinfonia), only that something seemed missing from their Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and other works. I could not tell why. I also take this chance to ask for forgiveness that it must have been due to sleeping too late the night before (even though I had tried to sleep as early as possible), I was practically half-asleep throughout that concert.

Number Two: Jean is a multi-media collaborative work with visuals/ concept by NAME and music by Scott Stroman (who conducted the concert). Despite reading the programme notes, I felt I could not fully comprehend this piece of music. The programme notes say that:
Number Two: Jean is inspired by the memory of the visual artist's great aunt and her close connection with a Cistercian Monastery in Leicestershire, where she used to take him as a boy.

The creation of Jean was a unique process, where Nik Berrera created a series of visuals and a working scenario which Scott Stroman used as inspiration in writing the score. Nik then adapted the visuals back to the music, allowing the music itself to feel natural and not restricted by any specific demands of the visuals; the creation process was therefore a genuine and organic collaboration. In performance, both the music and visuals have the ability to change and respond to each other, meaning that no two performances can be the same.

On the bus ride back, I must have been honoured that our orchestra's conductor sat beside me and he shared his afterthoughts of that concert by Young Sinfonia with me. I was able to stay awake throughout the conversation. For that I reckon, maybe it was not because I was too tired for the concert that I fell half-asleep, maybe it was because the music did not appeal to my ears.

Back at Hillhead hostel, after washing up and packing up what was necessary for the next day, I definitely would not decline any chance to head for sleepland. I needed sleep badly. I was so tired that night that I hardly have the strength to open all those doors from the front-door of the building to my room. That night, I would stand near the door and wait for someone else to open the door for me. If not, I would just muster enough energy to open the door just suficiently wide enough for me to pass through. I think I was so tired then that if the Earth were to shake that very night, I would have fallen to my death without any resistance. Thank goodness that I need not carry a double bass that night. The double bass was kept in my room all the while when I was attending that concert.

As such, being not a night-person, I must write here that I take my hats off those of the orchestra members who could stay up overnight to play bridge, chit-chat and so forth during the festival.

I am not a night-person by nature, and I certainly try not to sleep too late when I am oveseas. So if you have yet to know: Please make no attempt to disturb my habit of sleeping before midnight, for if you did, you are likely to see a non-responsive and grouchy me the very next day.


mistipurple said...

"I hope I haven't like Brahms' music so much that I have became as self-critical as he had been."

your statement made me laugh. this is just one more example of how you somehow managed to be funny when that may not have been your intent.

and... yes, i shall keep away from you well before midnight! :p

mistipurple said...

i can't resist telling you, i just saw your 'smirk'. by the way, you have a nice smirk!! lol.

oceanskies79 said...

Oh, but I have not intended that statement to be funny.

mistipurple said...

lol, then it must have been my way of coping with the seriousness of this world. i am trying to be happy, though irrelevantly at times! :p