As I write (type) this, my collarbone is still actually aching from the amount of time it’s spent pressed against a violin (specifically violin – the viola is feeling a tad neglected) in the last few days. Let me go back and explain.
On Wednesday (the 3rd) I was playing a corporate gig – background music to a hotel shindig with drinks, buffet, speeches etc. – primarily on violin, with sister duo Mia and the Moon and their effectively-bandmate percussionist (playing a fairly typical ‘acoustic mini-drums’ setup of cajon, snare and hi-hat strictly with brushes only, tambourine and shakers). This was a rare instance of me specifically being told ‘no, it’s fine for you to not learn the set, you can just busk it and make things up as you go along’! Don’t tell the clients; the other players seemed quite impressed, despite me floundering on a couple of unusual keys, reharmonisations and songs I didn’t know at all.
When we finished, about 11 I think, I had time to kill while waiting for an Uber to take me from the semi-country-estate hotel/resort/spa to Ascot station to get back to London (you think I had it bad? The band drove back to Leicester). I found an email asking if I could play two concerts (same programme) on viola with an amateur orchestra: Thursday 14th and Saturday 18th. Ooh yes please. Fixer very happy to confirm pretty much straight away. Then found on Facebook an ad from a violinist acquaintance: something has come up last-minute, can anyone dep for him for a semi-pro orchestral project, Shostakovich’s first and fifteenth (last) symphonies, rehearsals 7th and 8th (this was on the 3rd remember!) and concert on the 9th at Cadogan Hall. That only involved ditching one busking session, and my profit margin should be more than I’d make in 2 hours even after travelling to and from 3 calls and buying a couple of meals out. Plus, add Cadogan Hall and an ‘early career ensemble’ to my CV. Contacted the chap in need of a dep directly, who jumped at the offer I think and passed on my details to that fixer. All of this took place well before I got home! I was relieved to later discover I was taking over a seat in the second violins, given I admit to viola being my main orchestral / classical instrument these days and violin being occasionally rusty. At least working on parts for the Streisand project (more about that another time) has renewed my acquaintance with the very high registers!
Thursday: an hour’s busking.
Friday: two hours’ busking, plus listening to the two symphonies through with scans of the parts in front of me.
Saturday: two hours’ busking, plus (besides various other admin, desk work, correspondence etc) fitting in about 90 minutes’ practice on the difficult bits of the parts – which are comparatively few, especially in no. 15, but often very difficult, though some turn out to be more horrible on the page (lots of chromaticisms, enharmonics etc. and the first symphony has never been typeset – the part is a facsimile of a handwritten copy, despite having a reprint or possibly ‘new edition’ date of last month on the cover of the hired copy) than under the fingers.
Today (Sunday): rehearsals from 10:30 to nearly 6, albeit with a total of 2 hours in breaks.
Hence the aching collarbone. Of course, there is another rehearsal tomorrow evening (4 hours), then a brief warmup / run-through / top and tail early evening Tuesday followed by the concert. And then other projects from Wednesday (not joking)!
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Also, do you have plans Tuesday evening? These two symphonies are perhaps among the least monumentally pained of Shostakovich’s, and actually make an interesting pairing; the standard of musicianship is really quite high; it’s my first time playing at what is definitely one of London’s prestige venues and I’d like it if the place wasn’t empty; apparently the parts cost an absolute bomb to hire (Shostakovich is still in EU copyright for another 28 years or so) and the more Orion Orchestra make in ticket sales the more quickly they’re likely to pay me; and it’s a Tuesday night, you know? Information and booking here (or if you’re a student contact me and I can get you a comp – amazing!).
More posts to be written about other, currently upcoming, orchestral performances, theatre work, and perhaps some more about the function gig that introduced this post. Now for a bit of unwinding though!