Music weekend in Newport

September 21, 2009

We just returned from one of our whirlwind weekends in Newport – three rehearsals over two days, learning lots of new music, reconnecting with friends, and enjoying the beautiful beach weather (didn’t actually get out onto the beach).

5:00 a.m. Saturday morning is the start time.  Bleary eyed we eat breakfast and load up the van, hoping we haven’t left anything critical behind.  Like an instrument.  Or the music we’re about to rehearse (these things have been done, in the past…)  (One source of anxiety dreams – you know those dreams where you’re in college, suddenly facing the final exam in an obscure language, and you haven’t done the last six weeks of homework…  Only my anxiety dreams are about musical disasters.  I think the most memorable such dream of mine involved a locked concert hall, I could hear the musicians inside warming up; I finally got in, went to the stage, only to discover the orchestra was set up in the third balcony.  I make it up there, get my cello out, the end-pin somehow comes out, escapes over the edge of the balcony, falls down to the hydraulic pit, and between the edge of the pit and the wall, into the dark depths below.  I run down to the basement, which is raw mud, pilings holding up the building, rats running across the mud, water – perhaps from the Thames? – lapping up against the pilings, I can hear the orchestra starting to play up there in the third balcony…)

But I digress.  We head down the freeway, taking turns driving and napping.  We listen to all of NPR Weekend Edition-Saturday, then it starts again – if you were lucky, you were asleep when that part came last time.  We have our usual stops for changing drivers, getting coffee or a snack, finding a bathroom.  We pull into Newport about 9:15 for a 10:00 a.m. rehearsal.  We haven’t seen most of these folks since July or earlier.  The cello section (yay for us!) is all in place by 9:35, as other people straggle in for the 10 am rehearsal.  Craig unloaded just two timpani this time (a two-timpani gig – we could have done it in a smaller vehicle if ….)

This time, we’re doing Mendelssohn Reformation Symphony, two Ives pieces, Vaughan Williams Greensleeves, Jubel Overture (C.M.von Weber).  Most people seem to have practiced, we make good progress, Adam (our conductor) is happy.  But there are plenty of nasty bits to work on.  We work through the day – morning coffee at break, lunch midday (brought by wonderful NSO volunteers) and on through mid-afternoon.  By then we’re ready for a nap.

We stayed (as we usually do) with Buck & Sioux.  Sioux and I went to a play at the Performing Arts Center (very funny) while Craig and Buck dealt with their football addictions.

Today was another lovely sunny day at the beach, and we were inside struggling with Charles Ives, who seems determined to confound us with his rhythms.

This evening, after we got back home, we watched “The Soloist,” rented from Netflix.  Some of the scenes of homeless street squalor in LA, and the voices talking to Nathaniel as he descends into his schizophrenia, remind me in a perverse sort of way of some of my music anxiety dreams.  Perhaps it was the rat that appeared in Nathaniel’s sleeping spot in the freeway tunnel – apparently located nearby or maybe even underneath the Disney Concert Hall where the LA Phil plays.