OCIF (Oh crap, it’s Friday)

I’m just grabbing a bite of tasy polenta before my final recital rehearsal this afternoon.

After about 40hours in transit, I finally made it to Pendleton yesterday morning, fresh as a daisy. Nipped up to the office and grabbed my axe and managed a tidy 45 minutes of personal practice before hopping in the car for Tri Cities.

Sheila and I were rehearsing the rather enormous church she works at. It’s a nice piano and things sound impressive in there when you walk through the sanctuary, but I’d completely forgotten that there is a horrendous dead spot right where the piano sits. As if my poor brain didn’t have enough to cope with, it seemed to take about 25 minutes to get used to the feeling that my sound was coming from down the hall….

In any case, rarely have four hours flown by so quickly, and we didn’t even play the whole program. I then stumbled back down to Pendleton, arriving just before rehearsal with the orchestra, but in time to read some memos on my desk. I’m a pretty chilled out guy, in my opinion, but one thing I read really sent me over the edge of despair. I try to look at all things work related as solvable problems, and I’m sure this all was, but I was not pleased to have the aggravation of  something that I knew would not be conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Beethoven 8- what can I say???? We’ve got serious work to do, but damn do I love that piece.

Sure enough, woke up grouchy from the memo and with my back giving me extensive and specific feed back on it’s impression of the value of intercontinental travel. Coffee in hand, I finally got behind the cello and tried to start lining things up. I always find that the first day back from being out of shape or the first day on a new cello is the easiest because you’re mostly working on instinct. Day two is usually tougher, and the first few minutes were a bit frustrating to be sure, but after about half an hour of long tones and thinking about the art of sitting, things came around. The rest of the morning flew by.

It’s one of the many ironies of my life that giving up the cello, or at least setting it aside to conduct, has made me love playing it, and probably made me play it better than I can remember.

I’m expecting a few fouls to be sure, but recitals are wasted on our student years, when we’re all too insecure and stressed out to enjoy it…. Show time is 7:30 at the Pendleton Art Center. Tix a the door, and receipts all go to musician compensation for the band.

Show time is 7:30 at the Pendleton Art Center. Tix a the door, and receipts all go to musician compensation for the band.


Speaking of bands… They were just playing one of my favorite Doobie Brothers tracks on the stereo here. Back in the 70’s, the Doobies were  considered a pretty good band. If they were at their peak now, they’d look like the greatest band of our times…. I wanna play some funky dixieland, pretty mama, gonna take me by the hand…. I mean, what more can you say?

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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