Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Swamped by music

For most of the year I’ve hardly played at a concert or anything else musical. Now, suddenly at the end of the year, I’m loaded up to the gunnels. Last Sunday there was a charity concert to raise funds for a local rest home. It was combined with an end of the year performance by several of my old friend Arnold Bachop’s pupils. I didn’t play for any of the singers, but did manage to give a rather under-par performance of the four piano pieces I wrote this year.

Partly the problem was the piano: it’s an upright, set up high on four castors. In order for the pianist to reach the pedals, a small wooden block is set under them on which the pianist rests his or her feet. However, this block is not attached in any way to the floor, and has the tendency to slide gradually away from where it needs to be. Furthermore, the pianist’s bottom is perched on a smallish piano stool (small in terms of seating area proportionate to the pianist’s rear end) and this gives little leverage when you’re playing at either of the extremes of the keyboard. Which is what happens in my four piano pieces on more than one occasion.

But even blaming the piano won’t compensate for the fact that I just botched up things that I shouldn’t have botched up, and wouldn’t normally have botched up. Just one of those days. You think: I’ve played in public for more than 55 years. I won’t get nervous. I got nervous.

However, there was an up side to all this: I passed over the eight Peter Olds songs to a potential performer of them, and she didn’t faint with horror or regard them with any obvious distaste. And I caught up with several of Arnold’s pupils whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time. (We went out for a meal together after the concert.)

Next weekend I have to play for Michael Gray at some afternoon thingee in Port Chalmers. Michael used to be in Opera Alive, when I first met him. He was pretty young then, certainly at the low end of the starting age limit. But he was always very confident and competent. A great asset to the group. He’s currently moving upwards from being a baritone to a tenor. Interesting, because he often used to sing the tenor parts in the Opera Alive shows – mainly because tenors were always in short supply.

And that same Sunday morning I’m playing carols at my boss’s church. And the following weekend, another singing teacher, an old friend of mine, is putting on her end-of-year concert. And I’m accompanying everybody – except her husband and myself, when we sing Brush up your Shakespeare.

That doesn’t sound like much to do, really, but there are rehearsals all over, and, it being the time of year it is, there are various end-of-the-year dinners amongst this lot (at least three of them) and the possibility of having to play for the St Francis Xavier school musical – at very short notice. It’s all a bit much.

On top of all this, I got asked to go and have a biopsy in relation to my prostate – tomorrow. Someone else had cancelled out. (I’m not surprised, if they were having one of these biopsies. The process don’t sound comfortable! I might need some baby bedding just in order to lie down...)

Photo courtesy of Pa1nt,
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