Thursday, October 15, 2009

I love band.

I've already probably made a post with this title, but I'm going to do it again, just to spite you. Muahaha.

Today was pretty much just building up to the concert I have for University Band, a kind of "midterm", if you will.

Our rehearsal was in the Chester Fritz Auditorium, where we would have our concert. Before and after rehearsal, I managed to get some pictures.

This is what it looks like on stage!

What the audience section looks like. This place is freaking HUGE. Again, sorry about the blurriness.

This is a better picture, if a little slanted.

What the seats look like from the stage. The man in white is my band director for University Band, Dr. Popejoy, who is also the band director for the Wind Ensemble. He likes seeing those "I love band" smiles, and often has one on his face himself.

This auditorium is big enough to make 400 seated people look minuscule, as my band director was quick to point out, so we don't feel bad because "not that many" people came.

I walked home, stayed there for fifteen minutes or so, and then went to eat dinner, backpack with concert clothing in tow. After finishing the complete mind screw of a book known as "Atmospheric Disturbances" for my Honors class, I turned back to Monster Hunter International. I found what HAD to have been a Sluggy reference on page 361:

A man should always have access to emergency pants.

Pure gold, right there. I can just picture the comic strip in my head, too. LOL, evil clothes-eating moths of doom.

I got back to the auditorium really early, which was good because it gave me time to change into my concert attire and my BRAND SPANKING NEW KNEE-HIGH BOOTS. And then I took out my clarinet. Since I still had a ton of time, I was bored, so I decided to see what I could remember of the new show's music.

As it turned out, I remembered pretty much all of it.


Once the time had come, we all got on stage and started warming up. I was starting to finally feel nervous, because I just realized that if the recording equipment was really sensitive, it would pick up every mistake anyone would make - and I wanted this to sound good for Mom, so that she would actually enjoy the music on the audio DVD I plan on sending her.

We started off with the Chicago Tribune March by Chambers. This has to be least favorite song I played. First off, the entire thing is in 6/8. This generally renders all of the eighth notes as triplets. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that, second off, the song is pretty damn fast. Now I have to play triplets fast. Oh joy.

After that, Journey of Exploration by Goto, which is a rather exotic one. It likes to change time a LOT, and at one point in the piece, it switches from 2/4 time to 6/8 time every measure. What's really cool about it is that the majority of it is in 3/4...ok, that's only part of it. The truth is that while the page says 3/4, in reality, those playing the melody are playing in 3/4 while those in the background are playing triplets in 6/8. AT THE SAME TIME. It's so utterly brilliant.

And then, another really cool one, Sinfonia XVI: Transcendentalist Vienna by Broege. This one is in four movements, all majorly varying in feel. The first one, "Star-gazing: Aldebaran", is rather dark and is in 4/2. Think about this for a moment - there are four beats in a measure, but the half note gets the beat, meaning that half notes are like quarters, quarters are like eighths, and eighths are like sixteenths (the 1st and 2nd clarinets were not happy, since they had eighth notes). That took a while getting used to, but it sounds so damn cool. The second one, "Incantation", is pretty weird, too. It's in 12/8, and the parts of the 2nd and 3rd clarinets overlap exactly, forming a harmony over a rather fast melody. The third was stuck in my head all day, "Waltz", which is Exactly What it Says on the Tin. It's a 3/4 waltz, and it got stuck in my head, dammit. For most of the song, we play beats two and three, but later on, we 3rds get the melody. Sweet! The last one, "Star-gazing: Sirius", varies in mood within itself, starting and ending with a rather bleak theme with a jazzish theme going on in the middle of the song. The starting theme is reminiscent of the last few measures of the first movement, and the ending theme has some pretty kickass dissonance in it. Overall, this entire piece is something different, and I really loved playing it. That and the Goto.

The next piece was a transcription (meaning it was originally written for something else, but got arranged and re-written for band) and compilation of one of my favorite pieces ever, a cut-down version of The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. After playing Berceuse and Finale in high school with the wind orchestra, I fell in love with it. I love this piece so much that I actually started getting choked up while playing the end of it. Specifically, the parts after and including when the song goes into 7/4 from Finale, which I listened to repeatedly on my iPod while I was in high school. Let me tell you, trying not to cry in front of four hundred people while playing one of your favorite parts in musical history is very, very, VERY difficult.

We ended with Declaration, Ballade, and Finale by Huckeby, which is three movements pretty much stuck together. Declaration I don't like very much, mainly because we primarily have 32nd-note-runs. You thought sixteen notes were fast, try thirty-seconds. They suck. Ballade is really nice. We third clarinets have the background part, which is really nice and in 3/4. Finale is freaking AWESOME, though. We get the kick-ass melody part, along with the trumpets. Later on in the piece, it switches to 2/2, while keeping the same tempo in the 4/4 segments (so the director is pretty much conducting in cut-time, with the players pretty much playing in it, too).

I really, really enjoyed playing tonight. I love doing this. I don't know why I love doing this, and from a career sense, it makes little sense (I'm a Computer Science major and I don't plan on playing professionally), but I love playing music. Absolutely love it. It's my life.

We got to go in the seats to listen to the Wind Ensemble after us. The Wind Ensemble is audition-only, and very elite. Let me put it this way - the University Band takes anyone, and I am only a third clarinet. There's no way in hell I would've been able to get into the Wind Ensemble this year. Absolutely no way. Listening to them, their clarinet players are insane goddesses; their fingers move effortlessly over their keys (and, funny thing is, they move a lot while they're playing, too, just like me). They have a sense of musical balance that I can only DREAM of achieving. And the songs they play are very, very long - meaning that they have a lot of stamina.

This was slightly marred by the fact that some fucking ASSHOLE was whispering loudly to who I assume was his bitch of a girlfriend, who was TEXTING ON HER PHONE. I wanted to kick his ass, and so did some of the other band members, who joined me in sending some extra-strength death glares at them. This guy was in an entirely different section than me and I could hear him. I really wish Mom was here, she would've SO chewed him out, the bastard. Do you have any idea how hard it is to listen to Der Traum des Oenghus, Teil I, Op.37 while you hear someone's whispers over the beautiful clarinet and flute melodies?

I later found out that the President of the University (who also happens to play trombone) was, yet again, present at the concert, when my band director pointed him out at the end of the concert for applause. Seriously, how many times have I been in the same room as that man? He goes to all of the hockey games. He goes to all of the football games. He apparently comes to all of our concerts. He paid for the Texas Tech trip so we didn't have to (not to mention came himself and watched our halftime show in the VIP press box). His house is next to the Hughes Fine Arts Center and across the street from the Chester Fritz Auditorium. He must worship the band, and I greatly respect him for consistently coming to venues where we perform. It's nice having the support of someone so awesome.


Christina LMT said...

OMG, Silver...this makes me choke up!
I'm so, so glad for your love of music and performing, I hope you never lose it! It was always my greatest wish that you love your instrument and music, because I love singing so much, and it has been a vital part of my life. Never give up playing, no matter WHAT you end up doing for a living.

I can't wait to hear the DVD!

dick said...

Are you gonna be mad when I tell you that auditorium is smaller than the one in my kiddo's high school?

Okay, I won't say it.

memory_lucky12 said...

There's a high school auditorium bigger than that? Wow. My school is extremely small. Including the auditorium. My auditorium is probably like 1/16 of your auditorium Silver. It's small. It has really big windows too (with really big blinds). The stage is small too. But, then again, my school only has 500 students total, so yeah. Compared to my last school, that's a fourth (my last school had about 2000 students). But, if you think that's small, we visited a family over the summer. The school the kids went to was K-12, and it has about 100-200 students... THAT'S small (that's what she said!).