Friday, September 26, 2008

One year down

Yesterday marked one year since I moved to Toronto, Im pretty pleased with how the entire year went, moving up all i hoped for was to get enough work here to live on and hopefully play just ONE orchestra gig. I figured this town was an impossible scene to break as its overflowing with percussionists. I moved up and had an awesome year! I went from hording every opportunity i could find to play and now i have to sub out work regularly...Which is a totally different pain in the ass but significantly better than the pain of being stressed out because you have no gigs lined up that month..

Right now the dance class work is off the charts, this year I'm on staff with Ryerson University and Toronto Dance Theater, I also do a few classes on the side with other schools and companies as my time allows...

Brampton is going well, Learning how to be a principal when the rest of your section has at least 15 years on you is a little dicey, right now I'm being pretty lenient with how things are but am thinking about lowering a bit of a boom soon. There are some things that just don't fly with me in terms of how the section works...not in a bad way really, just my section will run different then how its been run in the past... I want the percussion not to be a weak link in the orchestra and if i cant bring in the players i want then the ones i have will hopefully work out, with a few helpful suggestions... The hardest part of it all i think is not coming off like a prick...Ill figure it out sooner or later...

Tomorow is a gig with the Sneak Peek orchestra, a group in the city comprised of young professionals and students...Its easily one of the best ideas if been a part of...essentially a conducting student and a composition student started the group to get experience and get the composers music played...its a satisfying group, everyone is pretty professional about it and the level of players, particularly the brass for this concert is quite high. Im happy to hang in there for some Prokofiev...

School is going good...Its not a whole lot of work classroom wise, its all practice and performance based...which is exactly how it should be, in my mind...We have a concert coming up including Scheherazade which should be pretty rad. Im playing timpani in the show which will satisfy a bit of a dream I have which was to play the timpani part to that piece after seeing david kent of the TSO (and my current teacher!) really kick it in the ass a few years ago... I mean the piece is a heavy one for all percussion and excerpts from most of the parts apear on lists all the time, Snare drum part is is actually on every list that will ever be put up for an audition ever...but the timpani part is just kind of a fun ride, some great notes and some chances to really kick some ass. im pumped!

Here's some Scheherazade with the best percussion section in history, Philly with ormandy. Look around for the 3rd and 4th movements to see them its timpani only in the first mvt... enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


There will be a real update soon, i swear to gadd.

in short,

Busy as frig in toronto with dance classes

Started going to school at the Con, its the perfect amnount of school and easily as disorganized as i am

Started my job up in!

gotta run to play another dance class now!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

All right, Been in Newfoundland for a wee bit over a month now, with a little under a month to go. Im having a great time home and I think its going to be hard to leave in late August, Which is worst, I was really hoping I was over all of that foolishness with moving around....anyways....

Sound Symposium shows went great and both were picked up by the CBC, so once i find out when they are going to air ill make a little post here with the details so everyone can have a listen!

The first gig the Dardanelles played together since i have returned from Toronto was a huge success, Huge crowd on a Sunday night and we felt really comfortable. I was a little worried because the first two rehearsals we had in preparation for the gig were a little shoddy, but it all worked when we played the show. We have Three more gigs before i go back to the big smoke. Aug 5 With the NAFCO convention, Aug 10 as part of the NL & Lab Folk Festival as well as one more final Sunday night at the ship with will fall on the 24th,

For now, Enjoy a clip of A Crowd of Bold Sharemen, who we played with Wed Night in Marystown.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Little Update

Few quick notes,

Heading back to Newfoundland on Sunday for around 2 months to play in the Sound Symposium, Which is a new music festival located in St.Johns that has an amazing vibe and brings in performers of a whole boat load of backgrounds and disciplines...very excited to play my concerts and working and hanging with the other performers check it out here

In addition to that im doing shows all over the province with the Dardanelles. Traditional/irish/newf/good times. Looking forward to that.

Im also doing a few other one off gigs while im home, including some recording.

In other news, theres a 95% chance il lbe going back to school next year... more on that once i finaly decide for certian if im going to do it

Since im listening to it, Heres prokofiev PC #3 with the TSO

Have a good saturday!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Busy and bad with blogs

Sorry for the delay on the blog! Its been a crazy month!. Way too many gig stores and news to throw all in on blog so hopefully ill make a couple of updates over the next few days...

I had one of the most ridiculous gigs of my life at the start of June...

I got a call to play Carmina Burana (again, two carminas in one month!) from Dan Morphy, a killer percussionist in Toronto and great friend as well. In fact we have started a duo together with sights to take it to Newfoundland within the year...but that's for another post. Anyways, Dan calls and asks me to play the gig, with the one hang up. which is that instead of playing it with the normal, Timpani + 4,5, or 6 percussionists, we would be playing it with Timpani +1. You can already see that this is becoming a shit storm...

In the days leading to the gig we contacted the conductor to see if he would hire on any extra percussionists, to no avail. So the ensemble was to be two pianos, two percussionists. I mean, If you're going to have the small ensemble version of the piece at least get the whole section. They also did not have to rent any instruments outside of timpani, Which saved them quite a few dollars, but still, no dice.

We accepted this and went on the hour and a half drive to the gig, carrying on the whole time about how great this was going to be. Envisioning these multi percussion setups that we would both have to ensure we would strike the maximum amount of notes possible and look and sound amazing while doing it...IT was actually starting to sound like we could totally pull off a good show in our minds.

Then we get there...The venue looks like a place where you would hold a lions club dart league...albeit with a nice balcony. We load in our cases, xylophone, tam tam etc.. and i finally lay eyes on the timpani they had to rent, Brand new, still wrapped in plastic...I get to the 29' drum and the 26' drum first....fiberglass shells..but I cant be choosy can I. We move the drums up to the stage and i go look around to see if i can help bring up the rest of my drums (Carmina uses 5 timpani, 4 is doable, but 5 is pretty standard) So I ask the conductor where they are bringing these brand new drums in from. and he says all the drums are in. I ask where are they then so i can roll them up. And he says, "On stage, We only rented two timpani, They were free!".....After i heard that i knew we were in full blown pigfuck mode... A crowd gather around as i told him that the piece needs 5 drums...and he goes on to talk about how he assumed it would be ok with two...etc. I should put in here that the conductor is a totally sweet guy. Don't get me wrong...Just a little too assuming...

So at this point everyone who's in the choir or involved with this work is telling me how great the music store was for lending us two timpani for free and even delivering them without charge...None of them really give a shit that my part is now completely fucked! I go talk to dan about it and we laugh at how amazing this is going to be..and i accept my fate that this is not going to be the most glorious Carmina i have ever played...

We spend the next 20's making our setups, puting triangles and tambourines all over to make sure we can grab as much as possible, theres a bass drum in the middle of us so we can both cover that part when needed...etc..its actually a little fun...Untill i start to check the ranges of the timpani...the 29 sounds pretty good, Im getting the drum to work well in the whole range of the pedal...then i start the 26... holy shit... This drum is fucked. It can barley hit a D (carmina uses a whole load of E on that im crippled even more) Not to mention the head is so out tune with its self that its like a flexatone..I start to tune up my almost but not quite D for the huge Timpani intro....starting to feel a little sheepish about the whole thing

The rehearsal is about to start when we realize we didnt grab our percussion scores from the conductor/choir director yet... Dan walks down, and yes, believe it or not, They did not rent percussion scores for us to play from. "The percussionists always bring their own music, I just assumed you would bring your parts." I mean, Really....Maybe i should have a photo copy of the book somewhere...but I don't... I have a shit load of orchestra parts but that one just has notmade it to the folder yet..But to assume we have the music, and to never bring it up until the downbeat is just retarded...

Anyways, We played the show, Had a laugh in the process, even if it was the most mucked carmina burana, In the end i was actually kind of impressed with how much of it we managed to pull off,

Theres a bunch of more news but this is allready too long, Stories to come soon, Im even heading back to school, which is a bit of a trip now too

Ill leave you with the Dardanells, Im playing some shows with them in newfoundland next month, very excited to travel around the province and play outside the main city for the first time in a couple of years!

PS I make no apologies for how poorly this blog is written, It took me days to write that post...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Boobs in Brampton

Dying with the flu, but had an great time in Brampton playing Carmina Burana with the Brampton Symphony Orchestra this past weekend, Gig was fine, and i really enjoyed playing with a conductor who isnt so full of shit. All this guy wants to do is bring good music into the community and make sure everyone has access to it, I can get down with that, They enjoyed my timpani playing and Im pretty certain ill get called back again in a more regular position. Which is nice!

Between the dress rehearsal and the gig out there i went looking for a coffee shop, in the pouring rain.. the streets are empty, with the exception of the occasional car, Downtown Brampton isnt exactly New York City...
So im walking and stop at a cross walk, and look the other direction to see how many seconds i have to wait before my signal turns to go... My eyes never made it far enough to see the counter, at the other crosswalk there was a TOTALLY NAKED WOMAN!!! I mean nothing on, After awkwardly and probably rudely staring for a few seconds, she starts walking toward me, which is too much for me to deal with and i start walking the other way...I mean, who knows how stable this woman is. I don't want some crazies tit to smack me right in the face ether (Like i would of gotten that lucky) So i look back and shes still walking, slowly. up the road, totaly calm. It was easily the most surreal experience of my life...

Aside from that my week has been boobless and a little busy, Subbing some shows in the musical Free to be You and me, Which really deserves a post to itself.. I can appreciate where they are coming from with this thing, but its really awkward to see a 14 guy sing about how much he wants a doll and how his dad is an arsehole for not letting him have one...Something tells me this would not go over in Newfoundland


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Winter is over, thank F

Weather in Toronto is finally starting to shape up, Forecast tells me that the temperature should hit around 22 degrees, which i will lovingly accept. You would think that the weather out side might want me to practice a lot less, but since my studio is only about 12 minutes walk from my apartment the sun is actually making me get down there more. I think it all has to do with transit guilt, You don't want to pay any cash to ride a street car for what would end up being less than two minutes, but you also don't want to walk through all that slush snow, cold wind shit, just to go practice ether. Whatever the reason, I'm just glad I'm logging more hours in.

Last night I checked out the TSO in the final concert series of the "New Creations" festival. They Played Jacques H├ętus' Concerto for Organ as well as Messiaen Turangalila Symphony.
Organ Concerto was actually quite different from what i anticipated, There was only one moment when the organ was playing that huge blasty blow the face off you. style was was exposed to so much in music school. it was a pretty reserved, even a little quiet to my ears, but that could of been my seats as well...I was thinking about how great it would to be to get my hands on a score of this work as some of the harmonies just sounded very hip. It was great

Turangalila was just huge and awesome, Id had heard the piece a number of times, as a result of a former teacher turning me on to it a number of years ago. even sending me a on a chase to track down a recording that featured two of my former teachers playing it with Ozawa and The Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra sounded great, I was really taken back by the Tam Tam player Mark Duggan. The sound of that Tam tam was so low, thick, it wrapped you up when it was played, In a part that is usually bashed and filled with high overtones, this performance was a whole new world!! The whole percussion section was actually great, the sound choices in the cymbals were really interesting, all of the mallet parts killed, and it was great to see my Timpani teacher tackled a bass drum. Lovely lovely night!

After three straight weeks of dance classes I'm finally in a bit of a lull, which i may regret later, but right now is very nice. Upcoming gigs include Shostakovich 5, and Carmina Burana, which
I'm pretty excited for

The Shostakovitch is actually with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, under Alain Trudel, I come in for the dress and gig and get a days work out of it. I am happy about this and a little shocked, this city must be teeming with young percussionists, I don't understand why one of their teachers doesn't take note that there is a spot available in the orchestra. I mean it has a fantastic conductor, and plays some heavy rep! I would have killed for this chance when i was at that age. I mean, We played the Vaughn Williams overture to the goddamn Wasps for 8 months when I was in a youth orchestra back home in 2003

The Carmina Burana is with the Brampton Symphony I'm playing timpani for this performance, Which I am over the moon for. I played this part last with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra in April 2007 and really had a blast with the part. I did not expect the chance to play it again so soon! Its a really fun timpani part, well all timpani parts are fun. but this one has lots of great solos and exposed stuff, not to mention a tone of places where your just allowed to kick ass!, Im pumped!

Other listening has included a shit load of Ron Hynes, Which makes me really look forward to my trip back to Newfoundland in June!