Friday, April 24, 2009

"The Soloist," this weekend, finally.

"The Soloist," the movie about Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, the homeless cellist and Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, is finally coming out this weekend. I am still only halfway through the book, but looking forward to seeing the movie. After watching this 60 Minutes segment, I am thinking a full-length documentary might be even better than a movie.

I love the quotes by Mr. Ayers in the clip. When asked why he played in a tunnel, where the traffic almost drowns him out, he said, "It seemed orchestral: the commotion, the calamity."

He also says, "Music is saying, 'Life isn't that bad.'"

Elsewhere I have read that one of Mr. Ayers' goals is to play in a community orchestra. (More commotion and calamity!) And another is to teach music therapy. Though he, himself, still suffers from mental illness, the music helps bring him peace.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rethinking the orchestra

Last weekend's performances were fun, though it may not have been wise to play in all four in the same weekend. The two "minor" concerts, one with piano students and the other as a soloist in church, went well, though I did not spend much time preparing the music.

I enjoyed the two orchestra concerts, but, in truth, I had not really mastered the music. I played most of it, but "self-edited" myself out in the places where I could not yet play up to speed. We had a very enthusiastic response to the performances, and I wish I could have take more credit for how well we sounded, but, in truth, we had six cellists when two or three would have been fine, given the total of only 31 players in the orchestra. As I am the fourth cellist, I am feeling a little unnecessary.

There are two other community orchestras in the area, one all strings, and one with a fairly similar make-up to ours. Both play "easier" music and have a more welcoming attitude toward "extra" cellists, so I think I will try one of these other groups in the fall.

For now, I am working on cello duets and small ensembles, and I have to say I am enjoying having the time to work on music other than orchestra music. I learned a lot during orchestra season about using various fingerings and improving my speed (not quite enough), and glad to have the time to slow down a bit and integrate it with the rest of my playing.