Sunday, November 04, 2012

Stars in my eyes

Orchestra Iowa is finally back in our beautiful hall, the Paramount Theatre, after floods destroyed it 4 years ago. We are so fortunate that the orchestra has stayed afloat (hmm) this whole time, and even more fortunate to be back in this gorgeous venue. We had a Gala concert last night with Harry Connick Jr., and I was fortunate enough to be able to play English horn on a couple pieces. It wasn't a full orchestra. He had a bass player, drummer, and 2 trumpets, trombones and saxes. Orchestra Iowa provided strings (not full), 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, English horn, bassoon and horns. We had rehearsal yesterday afternoon and the concert in the evening. 

I got up the courage to go talk to Harry during the break in our afternoon rehearsal. My internal monologue: Mr. Connick? Sir? Harry? What do I call him?!
Me: Hello, Harry? Sounds really great!
Harry: Hi, thank you!
Me: I'm Jillian; I'm the English horn player. 
Don't babble.
Harry: Nice to meet you. (He shakes my hand.)
Me: My son's name is Harry, too. No relation. 
Hardy-har-har. You are such a dork, Jillian.
Harry: Gives a gracious smile.
Me: It was my grandfather's name. Harry is a very fine name.
I'm sure he finds this fascinating, Jill.
Harry: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Me: Thanks so much for playing with us.
Harry: It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Me: It's been really fun. Thanks again!
Harry: My pleasure, thanks!
Then I head back to my seat and my inner monologue is happy I didn't make a fool of myself or seem too star-struck. Then my violist friend Sara shows me a photo she snapped of our 45-second conversation. I feel like clarifying that I didn't ask her to take this photo! But it's a cool little momento for me. :)



That would have made me happy in itself, but it gets better.

During the second half of rehearsal, we played Harry's piece with a whole bunch of rhythmically-tricky English horn solos. At the end of the song, Harry looks toward the back of the stage, where I'm sitting, and says, "Where's my friend back there? Is it Katie? (the only other orchestra member's name he knew, our concert master)" I knew it was me, so I called out "Jillian!" (Repeated by others so he could hear.) H: "Jillian? You're killin' it back there, you're killin' it!" (Followed by clapping by orchestra...for you non-music people, "killin' it" is a good thing!) H: "You should've been on our (names city) show!" (Leaving it out so nobody gets offended if they stumble across this post!) Me: "Well, fly me out next time!" 
Harry smiled.

And he just made my day.


But it gets better.

The concert comes along. Harry is killin' it. ;) The audience was eating out of the palm of his hand. I'd never heard a crowd there applaud and cheer so loud in that theatre. Nor have I ever heard an audience so enraptured with a performer when he took time out of his set to just talk. No piano music tinkling in the background, no rush, no agenda. He was very funny and gracious. 

"My" piece comes up, and it went well, and then Harry goes into a bit about his band members--some people on this stage he's known forever, some people like this orchestra, he's just met today. "Like my friend Jillian on English horn. Where are you, Jillian? (Lights come up on stage) Stand up and take a bow." I stand up (I'm sure I'm beet-red), give a little wave, and sit back down. Harry: "Now, I only know Jillian's name because she came up to say hello today. I don't know her last name, because she just said, "I'm Jillian," but she probably doesn't know my last name either. (Crowd laughs) But we had a short conversation, and I do know she's a fantastic player, and her orchestra is lucky to have her." (More applause, and I am melting on stage.) He goes on to talk about other members of his band, and I'm thinking, Stay cool, Jill. Don't let it go to your head.

Later, Harry talks about some sci-fi convention in his hotel and this strangely-dressed woman with a paint roller in her hand that turned out to be a "wand" who snapped at his tour manager when he said "nice paint roller". Later in the concert still, Harry talks about odd people, including this orchestra, who were probably all part of the sci-fi convention. "Jillian was the woman with the paint roller!" Haha!

I had so much fun. I'm not daft though; I realize he met someone in the orchestra, had a name, and I easily became the go-to girl in order to have a story or two. But it was still very special to be singled-out and complimented, and it made my day! He'll move on to his next city and forget about little old me, but I'll have this great memory for quite a while!

So if Harry Connick Jr. or his manager is reading this, thanks for making my day! You were very gracious to me and our orchestra. I'd love an autographed photo! :) How about....c/o Dave Camwell at Simpson College; Indianola, IA 50125 ;)  ...and I'm serious about that flying me out thing. :)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Get your composer straight.

More from the world of "no book editor that knows anything about music":

 From Chloe Neill's "Some Girls Bite"

...to be thankful for the things that reminded me that I was a small clog in a very big wheel: the lake on a moodily cloudy day; the gracious divinity of Elgar's "The Lark Ascending"...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

My faves

Not an oboe post, but we're keeping Team Camwell family-related, so this is the best place for my thoughts on...

American Idol!! (Who still watches this with me?) I picked my faves last year, and I was on the money with the final 2. We're down to 9 now, and my 4 favorites are still in it. They are:

Paul McDonald. My husband thinks he's creepy, but I completely disagree. I really dig him, and he's got the most unique voice of the competition. I'd buy his album.
 Pia Toscano. She's a power house! Best voice of the competition.

 Lauren Alaina. DJ Tanner of the competition! Anyone else see it? She's so cute. An early favorite, a friend of mine and I agree she could take the whole competition. She just needs to get her spunky personality back. She probably has the best pop voice this year.

 Oh and dear Casey Abrams. You could take this thing! Best musician of the competition. He probably pushed too many people away with the freaky-creepy guy show. The occasional growl is alright, but I'd rather hear songs like you did this week.  I think it will be between Lauren and Casey this year!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas highlights

Wow. So I spent all night putting photos into albums on Kodak Gallery, and altogether, there are about 160 photos...4 albums. Uh, I am not putting all of them on the blog! Here are the links:


How do I choose some highlights?? I don't have all my favorites below. There are many from my dad's camera that made it to the Kodak galleries, but I would have had to go through the discs he gave me again to put them on the blog, and I think I've spent enough time on the computer tonight!! (Including some with my mom--our camera was out of batteries Christmas Eve and morning--all on my dad's camera.) So if you're dying to see them, click on the above links. If not, here are a few:
















Editor's note: Oops. After all that, I posted to the wrong blog!! Well, no harm. I'll re-post on Team Camwell!! I hope you oboists enjoy my family photos, too!! :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Random Thoughts from the Pit

1) 6/4 is like 4/4 with 2 extra beats. (These words of wisdom from the conductor. I'm still waiting to step in a rest.)

2) It is cruel and unusual punishment to not only have to play "Bow" music at the end of a long show, but "Exit" music as well.

3) Why all the key changes?

4) My teeth hurt.

5) Is that blood I taste?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How do you spell ppppllllllll

(or a raspberry sound with your lips, the only sound possible after 6 hours of rehearsing?)

I do not recommend zero practicing for several months (um, when was my last orchestra set??) then practicing for 2.5 hours the day before a 6-hour Broadway show rehearsal. Ouch, ouch, ouch. You know you're out of shape when you're on par with your oboe method students in their lack of embouchure muscles while playing for less than a 50-minute class. I shouldn't use motherhood as an excuse to not practice, but I have not found a workable solution. Every practice session has been on a need-to-now basis. Orchestra set? Practice. (Actually, I felt really good about my prep for the last set.) Perform at Fortnightly (a ladies' social/musical group every two weeks--101st year!)--practice the one piece for that (1st & 2nd mvts of the Dring Trio for oboe/flute/piano). Cramming all my practicing for Mary Poppins into one session (with a few DVD study sessions--useful, but not the same as practicing, and in my house, with the two babies, it was impossible to play along with the DVD) was not a good idea. Well, it was an afternoon practice session on English horn and the evening on oboe. So at 9pm last night, my lips felt like they were going to fall off.

Now, I'm a good reader, and it's saved my butt on many occasions, but being a good reader will not help you with your endurance. We had our first two rehearsals today, 6 hours' worth. At the beginning of break in our first rehearsal, I looked over at my friend Sonja on flute and said, "I'm in serious trouble." It didn't help that the practice space (I won't say room, as it was the lobby of the hall) was absolutely freezing...winds were flat...biting up to pitch...further ouch. By the end of the first rehearsal, I had trouble smiling--I was just trying to stretch my face muscles. By the end of the second rehearsal, I had cut through a lot of my upper lip enough to draw blood, I now have a few blisters (I'm praying will just miraculously callous over by tomorrow morning--gross I know...it's a wind player thing...we're tough) on that inside upper lip, and my lips are very chapped and raw. Tomorrow is worse...9 hours of playing. I don't know how I'm going to make it.

To make matters worse, my inner klutz made its appearance today, and I took a tumble in the middle of the street. We were rushing back to the hall (er, lobby) after lunch, and we really had to run. (I'm also out-of-shape physically...I feel oh-so-good about myself.) I was running with two girls, both in better shape!! We were jay-walking/running, a car was coming (although the light was turning, so I don't want people to think I threw myself in front of oncoming traffic), so we ran faster. I wasn't wearing great shoes for running (read: heels), and I was carrying a heavy purse and tote bag (read: top-heavy). Right before I started to go down, I had this odd sensation that I was about to fall. I felt my upper body going faster than my legs could go, and boom, flat on my stomach in the middle of the street I went down, crashing mainly onto my left elbow and heel of my right hand. Left knee got some pavement too. Sonja helped me up, and I shook it off. When we got back to our seats for rehearsal (few minutes to spare--we were all almost late because of the restaurant, but we all beat the road musicians/conductor back anyway), I inspected my wounds. I had seriously scraped up my left elbow (right below), and a baseball size bump was starting to emerge. My right hand seriously hurt. With some first aid supplies from a road musician and Sonja (trust flute players to carry ibuprofen and antibiotic gel), I made it through the rest of rehearsal, and as I'm typing this, my arm just stings a little. I do need to go to bed early tonight to rest up for tomorrow!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Practice like you may have an audition coming up

Next on my horizon: Mary Poppins, the musical. Rehearsals start Tuesday. I've been watching the DVDs that came with the advance book, and it's been helpful to see how the conductor takes certain things. Of course, I was hoping that I'd get to see the actual show on the DVD, but that wouldn't be practical. After playing "Wicked", I was able to go see the show in Kansas City. I may have to check out Mary Poppins' next stop.

Anyway, in addition to this, I have a couple auditions in the near future. One is for Des Moines Metro Opera, English horn, and as I'm blogging this, I realized I haven't requested the audition packet yet. Note to self!! The other is a potential audition, and I have no idea what the material will be until after the new year. So I get to have some *fun* going through some principal oboe excerpts, practicing the biggies in case they show up on the list. (And it would be very short notice for the audition.) So, just for fun, list your top (principal) oboe audition excerpts. Here are mine, in no particular order:

1) Tombeau (all mvts.)
2) La Scala
3) La Mer (fast)
4) Brahms Violin Concerto, 2nd mvt.
5) Beethoven 3, slow
6) Pulcinella
7) Schubert Great C Major, slow
8) Mendelssohn 3, fast
9) Mozart Oboe Concerto (darnit)
10) Tchaikovsky 4, slow

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oh no, you didn't!

I may or may not watch The Young & the Restless...and if I do, it's only because I may or may not have been watching since I was 10 years old...with not much advancement in the storylines... Anyway, here's a quote I found disturbing:

Abby (who has aged 8 years in the past 4 months): "No offense, Uncle Jack, but watching you go through my financial statement is only slightly less boring than that AWFUL concert thing you made me sit through last week."

Jack: "That concert thing was the Chicago Symphony playing Ravel..."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back on the wagon

In the past week, I've practiced three, count 'em, three times. To me, this is a huge accomplishment. In college, I really wouldn't be bragging about three times...I may even have been reprimanded in my lesson!

Rehearsals for Orchestra Iowa start up again on Monday, and tonight, after three sessions back on English horn, I finally left not feeling like my face was going to fall off. Now, can I make it through the Planets? Two more days to get my chops up.

I've found a good solution to the location situation. I've been going to Dave's office at Simpson to practice after the boys are down. Of course, I can't do that on Tuesdays or Thursdays, since he teaches those nights, but I'm trying to get in an evening session here and there. If I can push past the "But I Don't Wanna!" barrier, I quite enjoy practicing in the evening. I feel more productive than during the day, when mental to-do lists tend to compete for my attention.

Next week, it's pretty much practice-before-rehearsal time. Monday and Wednesday, evening rehearsals, plus 2-2.5 hour drive times...I don't get back until 12:30am, all day with the boys, evenings Tues/Thurs at home too...then rehearsal Friday night, dress rehearsal Saturday morning, concert (outdoors--never a favorite) Saturday evening. Dave and the boys are coming with me for the weekend, so this will be Bryton's first time in a pack & play. Hopefully he'll still sleep as well as he does at home!