Seventh Annual Vivaldi Concert – Pret-a-jouer 2012

We do this every year and it gets bigger and better every year and sometimes we think it is so damnmuchwork that we’ll never do it again.  Either way, this will be a really special, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Saturday, December 8 at 8:00 p.m. in Walter Hall at the University of Toronto —

RV 489 – Michael Sweeney
RV 484 – Alicia Bots – GGS
RV 480 – Nadina Mackie Jackson – studio teacher for both schools
RV 499 – Bianca Chambul – U of T
RV 473 – Eric Macarios – U of T
RV 500 – Neil Chen – U of T
RV 490 – Christopher Kostyshyn – U of T
RV 477 – Eric Mohr – U of T

RV 406/481 – Kevin Sleno – U of T

Hear nine bassoon concerti played by bassoon soloists of  U of T and one from The Glenn Gould School of Music backed by the enthusiastic string players and pro harpsichord/organists from each school.  Our 2012 Guest star is Michael Sweeney, Principal Bassoon of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Our goal is to present all of the concerti over time with as many interpretations as there are performers.
Our reality is that we have done almost 30 of the concerti in the last 7 years…sometimes single movements, sometimes repeating a concerto.  Slowly but surely the standards and parameters become higher each season, building on the past and always ambitious.   My hidden agenda is to create a culture and context for bassoon art music. Each student has an administrative job, sometimes two, and it is a massive group endeavour to fit this around the busy school year.

This project is 100% voluntary and any bassoonist who wants to perform is permitted to do so, providing they provide the orchestra parts and scores, memorize their solos and fully perform their administrative duties.  We have first year students and grad students playing side by side.  I would hire any of these students in a flash to be on my project support teams (and I have hired them!).

And this project is supported by our colleagues… the student string players at the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School of Music, along with our professional colleagues playing harpsichord (Cecilia Lee and Wesley Shen) and the University of Toronto which is allowing us to present the concert in the main recital hall.  Thank you!!

FatGurlWannaBeARockStar presents Found Things

Show was wonderful (FatGurlWannaBeARockStar presents Found Things)… my reed was geriatric — I have NEVER played on such an old reed (one month!  aka 30 days!!);  have been so screamingly busy recently and the two unexpected sight-reading-Don-Quixote concert nights at the symphony killed my last-minute-reed-making-and-learning-new-movement-of-electronic-work Master Plan.

Our attempt to livestream via StageIt was a big failure… one young fan in New Brunswick bought two tickets (yippee! support!) but we just couldn’t get the connection to work.  My clever engineers did manage to broadcast through UStream though I cannot find any trace of the event.

We will keep working on this and eventually it will be a matter of course that our distant fans can join us for concerts of new music.  Wonderful to have our handsome engineer Rob DiVito on the project and his assistant Fabio.  The owner of Gallery 345 was super positive and hovering usefully… our tickets were looked after by musician Cheryll Chung and the bar was managed by modern dancer Ellen and my Vivaldi T-shirts were modelled and sold by Neil Bishop.  Our door prizes were a T-shirt and a piece of art by me… a dozen miniature model birds fashioned from Fimo and displayed in a recycled plastic egg carton (Cheeper by the Dozen).  The video loop of mostly Cecilia’s photos of graffiti and found images was beautiful… some of my graffiti shots made it my technology skills lag behind hers.  I’ll catch up. It was wonderful to do a creative project with the brilliant, sensitive and thought-provoking Cecilia Lee.  The audience was small but perfect and included three sets of bassoon parents and many young bassoonists (at least 7).

I am tired right now… it was fun to premiere the new larger version of Christopher Willes’ work for bassoon and electronics (In Reference to a Passerby) while hooked into the integrated sound system at Gallery 345.

I’ll tell you about the other works tomorrow… the lovely Rossini Concerto, the two solo piano works by Debussy and Ravel played by my wonderful friend Dr Cecilia Lee and RV480 and 495 and St-Saens and the delicately lovely Soliloquoy by Bernard Garfield.  Tired now. Going to bed before 2 a.m. just this once.  But never again after this.  Inspired.


Windmills and Fridges

Visited the wonderful composer Michael Colgrass and his beautiful wife Ulla in their lakeside condo this morning.  Talking about life choices.
Ulla said that if I imagine what I want in life, it will appear.  She meant true, concentrated, active imagination that commits to every detail and connection with the desired results. Michael said that life is like a fridge… if you just open the door and stare in it, you cannot see what you want, yet if you close it and think for a moment (or notice your coffee on the counter), when you open the fridge again, you will see the carton of milk right in front of you.  Interestingly, when I raced home after our visit to grab my phone before heading to the university, my own fridge was broken again (heating merrily) so I transferred everything into Guy’s fridge. Then the Toronto Symphony called to ask if I would come and play the third bassoon part for Strauss’ Don Quixote as their bassoonist was ill, oh and that the concert was at 6:30.  I said yes.

Met Cecilia at the University and played through our Vivaldi Concerti (Rv 480 and 495).

Met my students briefly and told them I would be back to the Conservatory after the concert.

Then ran to Roy Thomson Hall, changed, slapped on makeup, got out my screwdriver and put on my whisper key lock; I always take it off for concerti and solo stuff but always need it for the soft, low second or third parts with I play with the TSO.  Then Michael Sweeney and I played through the Strauss to identify the road map, then we played it… soloists were fantastic (Joseph Johnson, Teng Li, Jonathan Crow) and I didn’t get lost (woohoo).
Then I beetled up to the Conservatory to teach an ardent young player who keenly wants to play in orchestras for a living and wanted advice on how to navigate all the mountains of work that has to be done in addition to pursuing music.  I had a lot to say.

Home late… day starts early tomorrow with teaching… and maybe playing with the symphony again, and maybe, just maybe, playing through my concerti before nightfall.


Teaching day yesterday…. meeting early with one senior student at the Glenn Gould School of Music to hear his Hummel concerto, then a first-year student to hear his Vivaldi, then meeting with the director to talk about the future of bassoon at the Glenn Gould School of Music, then rehearsing Rossini and St-Saens with Cecilia Lee for two hours for the upcoming weekend recital (Fat Gurl Presents Found Things), then listening to 3 hours of Vivaldi Concerti rehearsals of the bassoon students and their string quintet at the University of Toronto, then meeting wonderful old friend/repairman Shane Wieler and the bassoonists of the U of T double reed class for a two-hour review of maintenance principles.

His class covered all aspects of preventive care and he brought along George Zukerman’s beautiful 60-year-old Heckel to demonstrate many points.  I should tell you in great detail about what he said, but for now, remember to carry chewing gum in case a pad falls out and round toothpicks in case you lose a pivot screw. And a clean brush to get rid of dust.  And remember to suck the moisture out of all the keys (I only did the g resonance on the boot!).  And much more.  Today I was awake at dawn, working on administrative stuff and dealing with an embarrassing Twitter virus all day.  Still not sure it is gone.  Realized I have 3 days to learn the new Christopher Willes piece for bassoon and electronics (In Reference to a Passerby).

Happy Birthday continues

Cannot go to bed early… maybe I will be cured of inveterate late nights once I make the trip to Japan and back with my old Dad (December 10-17).  Until then, when inspiration hits at 11 p.m. Sunday night, I know that it is going to be hard to get up on Monday morning.

Teaching today… I have some very positive students… one is both learning how to make reeds in my freehand style and playing her new Vivaldi concerto from memory.  Both initiatives take equal measures of trust and commitment… it is initially hard work to develop either skill, but once achieved, the freedom is intoxicating!  Tonight, I got to hear this girl play her concerto with strings and completely free of the printed page.

After the Vivaldi rehearsal at the Glenn Gould School (Mike Sweeney playing RV 489, Alicia playing RV 484 and me playing RV 480), I was surprised to see many more of my students come in the door with birthday cake and french press coffee (it was only 9 p.m.) and assorted drinks and plates and cups and they were so organized!  Cecilia Lee and the lovely string players played happy birthday.  I feel very fortunate and feted… such a good feeling.

Guy left on tour today, for the first time with a carry-on case so that he doesn’t have to worry at every city that the airlines will lose his cargo case.

Worked until 1:30 a.m…. got a new version of my piece from Christopher Willes that we will premiere on Dec 2 for bassoon and electronics.  Tomorrow I might get to see Valdy who is in town after recent tour.  Also get to meet with the assistant director to find out more about the future of bassoon playing at the Glenn Gould School.  Then rehearsing for next recital, listening to the U of T Vivaldi rehearsals and then welcoming Shane Wieler to the University to give his annual maintenance presentation to the students.