Friday, June 22, 2012

Mississippi- Week 1

Hey ya'll!  I've been in the south since Monday!  This place is amazing because they all serve fried chicken :)

I am really enjoying the AWSO.  It is crazy busy though.  This was the first time I was able to get on the internet.  Thankfully, I only had junk mail in my inbox.

Our rehearsals start at 7:30 AM.  They tend to end around 9 pm or later.  We rehearse on the boat, which makes our instruments quite warm and our skin burn.  We have a large ensemble which consists of:
4 flutes
4 oboes
4 clarinets
5 bassoons
6 horns
5 trumpets
2 tubas
6 trombones
6 percussionists
1 harp
1 piano

Mr. Boudreau has commissioned over 450 works for this instrumentation over the last 55 seasons.  This is unique because it is like playing in a Mahler orchestra, but without strings.  Our music can be crazy hard, but everybody is super awesome, which makes music-making fun.

We also all have quintets.  My quintet is currently working on the Irving Fine Partita.  I love my quintet.  We play well together and have drastically improved over the last four days.  Yesterday (Thursday), we performed at Columbus, MS Exchange Club.  Tonight we had a concert for the people who donated money to AWSO.  It consisted of chamber music.  I played on the Mozart Piano Quintet in Eb (for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and piano) and The Good Soldier Schweik Suite on English horn.  It was a blast!

In the afternoons, we have been going to Columbus High School to coach the band kids. They are having a summer music clinic right now in honor of the AWSO being in town.  There are no oboes and bassoons, so we were given the saxophones.  I took charge with my band-director personality.  I even corrected their fingerings :)  However, about 20 minutes into the session, the band director comes in with six oboes in his arms and asks me to check them and teach some of the kids oboe.  He did the same with four bassoons.  Only two of the oboes worked.  That was a joyous project.  At least he had oboe reeds.  Adam, a bassoonist, had to let the kids use some of his old reeds.  Today I gave a private lesson to a kid who actually wants to switch to oboe.  He told me about his part-time job at a pharmacy and how he works about 14 hours a week to make money.  He is 8th in his class.  His school has about 3,000 kids, so that is a great feet!  Good thing he's switching to oboe...smart kids tend to do well on that instrument, just sayin'.

This brings up an interesting observation; segregation is still alive and well in the south.  It isn't mandated by law, but it is obvious when we all have been out and about the community.  The school's band is completely black.  It's a good school too.  That's totally racist to say, but from the movies I have seen and what I have heard about Milwaukee schools, I was happily surprised.  But when we were at the country club for dinner, everybody was white, except the caterers, who were all black.  I thought of "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" due to the atmosphere.  I asked a clarinetist what he thought and he asked, "Haven't you seen the Mississippi flag?"  I had not.  The flag includes the Confederate flat within the design.  Last year, the MS Congress voted on changing the design.  They voted against instituting a new flag in a 2-1 vote.  Tonight at the chamber concert, people of all races interacted normally and were excited to see one another.  I am just confused by the racial politics.  For the record:  I am just observing.  The south has a complicated history, which I feel insufficient to comprehend.  I mean, I am used to "racial tensions" between the Germans and Norwegians in Northern Wisconsin.  It amounts to this: What type of Lutheran are you?

Oh, and MS is hot, hot, hot!  I don't know why I take a shower in the morning.  I am starting to get used to the sweat running down my back. Yugh.

Tomorrow night is our big concert.  The city made this week a music festival.  I'll find newspaper articles and news clips to post here as well.

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