Friday, September 02, 2005

8 Aug 05: First day of festival orchestra's rehearsal

This is the first day of the rehearsal for the festival orchestra. The festival orchestra is made up of members from various orchestra and musical groups in the festival. Together, the members of the festival orchestra will play on 12 Aug 2005.

This was the programme for the festival orchestra's gala concert: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Brahms' Second Symphony.

Afer breakfast, my mind was thinking about playing Brahms' Second Symphony later in the day, and I started feeling excited. I thought, how exciting it would be to play the symphony. Then I started running back to my hostel room from the central building where the canteen was located.

Then unexpectedly, I fell. Ouch! I almost fell on my face, but I managed to cushion the fall with my palms. As a result, both my palms were wounded. Only later did I realised I could have sprained my left thumb. The fall left wounds on my chin. My knees were hurt too even though I was wearing a pair of trousers. I felt my knees hurting when I was walking.

Initially the wounds hurt as they were still fresh wounds. I applied antiseptic cream on the wounds after cleaning them. The wounded areas continued to feel painful. With wounds from almost top to bottom, I must have been feeling very grouchy then.

When I returned to my room, I hate the thought that I had one double bass in my room and I had to bring the double bass stool too to New Kings where we were to have our sectionals and rehearsal. For once, I wish someone could invent a device that would shrink large-size items to the size of a pin.

Several of the folks in the orchestra were nice to help me with the carrying of the items. For example, MC and SH helped me with carrying of the items. A festival bus took us to New Kings from Hillhead Hostel.

Finally, we reached New Kings. It took a while for us to know where sectionals were held. Actually, I won't have felt that it took such a while if not for me having wounds all over. Sorry if I have exaggerated. The wounds simply hurt.

Anyway, the morning started with everyone having sectionals. MC and myself attended a double bass sectional where there was only two of us and our tutor. He is a double bassist who lives in Aberdeenshire, if I remember correctly.

Sectional that day was interesting. Our tutor, I addressed him as P here, gave pointers to correct my posture. That seemed to help take off some strains from my legs and arms. He also taught us how to count triplets by either using the word "cho-co-late" or "straw-ber-ry". It sounds a little cranky at the start but it was certainly effectively. Thanks P.

I had sectionals here.


We had lunch after sectionals. Lunch was at Crombie's Hall's canteen. The system of being served with food and getting our choice of food at that canteen was quite hard for us to understand. The system seemed so totally different from that at Hillhead Hostel's canteen. Over at Hillhead, we are restricted to one choice of the maincourse at anyone time, but we can help ourselves to all the rest of the food. Of course, we all do our part by only taking what we can reasonably finish. However at Crombie, it is strictly two courses per person per meal. I was giving a warning by one of the staff because I did not know the rules at the Crombie's Hall. I took three courses and had wanted to take more. A small plate with one slice of cheesecake is also considered a course.

I finished lunch early, so I walked about the compounds of New Kings. Like I have mentioned early, the grass in Aberdeen is somehow so special such that one would be tempted to sit on it. No mud and no insects crawling from the ground (at least I did not experience it).

More photos await, if you wait long enough to see a link here.

Orhcestra rehearsal followed after lunch-time. The first half of the rehearsal was a little demoralising. I was not concentrating (it must be because of the pain from the wounds) and I played the Brahms' Second Symphony badly. My greatest weaknesses were rhythm and sight-reading difficult passages. That day, all my greatest weaknesses showed through. Brahms' Second Symphony is a difficult work for me at my current level of playing. I struggled a bit despite having practised it on my own, and going through the sectional. But the beauty of Brahms' symphonies is not in playing the notes, it is in playing it musically so that the overall orchestral effect and texture would be the way intended by Brahms. That's my humble opinion.

We had a break after the first half of the rehearsal. During the break, the conductor of the festival orchestra came to the double bass section. He asked if we could understand him, and also asked how he could help us understand him in anyway. I thought he meant if we could understand his conducting, so I replied accordingly. Then I realised he might be asking if we understood him when he speaks English. Earlier during the rehearsal, MC heard him wrongly and mistook that he wanted to play the second movement. Actually he wanted to play a particular section in the first movement. I could not hear the conductor then, so MC had the honour to flip the scores to the page where he thought he had heard the conductor wanted. So I guess our double bass sectional (at that time made up of the two of us) misheard and misunderstood the conductor. He must be thinking that we can't understand English at all.

Finally the rehearsal was over.

I can't remember what I did after the rehearsals. I often know I had to ensure that the double bass was carried back to the hostel room. I must have wanted to practise on it. Meantime, I could not recollect what went on that evening except that I know I went to bed not too late. I infered that I could not have slept too late. Not when I was suffering from the pains from the wounds. Pardon me, I was indeed grouchy then.

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