July 17, 2006

Tooting My Horn

I had my first orchestra rehearsal tonight. It's the Preston Symphony Orchestra, out of Preston, sponsored by the city of Darebin, in the city of Melbourne. I still don't get how that works around here, why there are cities within cities. Anyhow, the suburb of Preston is just nextdoor to Coburg, our little chunk of concrete here in Australia. It takes me just under half an hour to get to the rehearsal from my place. And then an hour and a half to get home. Why, you ask?

We rehearse in the Preston city hall (but wait, why is it a city hall if Preston is a suburb?), which is just a few miles down the road from us and up a side-street. There is a bus route that runs past our place and can drop me off at the side street, so all I have to do is walk the ten or fifteen minutes up to the city hall. However, we rehearse until 10pm, and the bus routes stop at 8ish. So in order to get home, I have to climb onto a train, go into the city, change trains, and come back out again. Tonight was a bit of an exception, because we ended early and the trains fell into this phenomenal back-to-back order that left me without layover time, cutting a good half hour off of my travel schedule.

It's amazing what a good story public transport can make.

Anyway, the rehearsal was not too bad. It never ceases to amaze me how classical composers think: they make a horn player rest for ages (45 measures) and then think that we can pull a high A out of our collective asses. For you non-horn players, that's near the top of my range, and at the moment, I'm not in the best shape I've ever been in. It's a trifle difficult.

The orchestra itself is made up of fifty or so people, and this concert five additional soloists from local high schools that are each soloing on their respective instruments, while we accompany them. It figures that this would be the concert I'd join the group on (seeing as how it was those sorts of concertos that made me quit orchestra in college). But in a weird sort of way, I really enjoyed it.

It's good to be playing again, and concertos give me a good long warm-up for playing whatever comes the concert after this (the Verdi requiem, I believe). The people are great; they're a tiny little community of their own, and they remind me of my college orchestra (though the director is much more ... normal ... than Dr. Harman was, but I'm still getting used to hearing conducting in an aussie accent). I'm pretty sure that I'm the youngest person there; ah, the world of the community music group.

But they're not bad. In fact, I felt like I'd met musical equals. I didn't know quite what to expect, but I had my doubts when I walked in and the Preston Junior String Orchestra, mid-rehearsal, was mangling a simplified version of a concocted medley from "Titanic." Terrible song, and the playing was painful to listen to. And then we played. I did ok, but everybody around me felt both comfortable with each other and with their instruments.

It's good to be back.

Tomorrow: feeding the birds at Mt. Dandenong, and why I looked like a pirate.

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