Rubs ‘n’ Shuffles

We’ve all listened to orchestral music at one point or another, whether we were conscious of it or not. It’s all around us. In games, into whose worlds you immerse yourself entirely for hours; in Hollywood, where the credits are almost literally singing praises (yet seem optional to most); in the uncertain, scrabbling cues of a radio station; in a classic advert that appeals to the would-be elite.

…have you ever watched an orchestra, though?

The visual sigh of many bows on strings, breathing for all; the eclectic voices of the woodwinds, impossibly different, magically weaving together as silk; the ancient, visceral power of percussion; valley walls of brass and silver, forever calling to arms, or calling you home.

Professional, Community. All are beckoning to you as they pass. Unless you focus your attention to their path, they will be gone before you can say a word. 

How can you follow, though? I hear you ask. The players seem so aloof to you; the hush between them, the conductor, the music and the space between all things seem to forbid you to live as living, breathing, sound. You feel rejected, disallowed in your auditorium seat.

But if you stop to think, you’d realise that perhaps they have spoken this language for so long, that they have forgotten that high praise is more than a shuffle of the foot, or that kissing sound is shorthand for what was once an affectionate jibe at a friend.

They and their kin have lived as one in these soundworlds for hundreds of years, as fully to some as a race lives a planet. It is always scary to explore new worlds, and the beast that is the world’s Orchestra cannot change her story too quickly – to turn her steps toward something unknowable is… stressful.

The beast is quieter now, for the first time in centuries. She is bleeding quietly in the shadow of apathetic decision-makers, broken into remote, lonely pieces, wondering if she will ever rise again. To take another faltering step, maybe even into those new worlds she was told about, would warm her blood.

She quietly, hopefully listens to the very air around her, willing the music to be her companion once more.

Is she doomed? You wonder.

Well, the real question is this: are you listening?

Sorry – it’s a *bit* late…

This Newsletter has been a long time in the coming (a very long time), and it was going to be the best newsletter ever.

I was going to do the thing that everyone was doing in January and list everything that happened not in the last year, but in the last DECADE.

Cleverly, this would start with:

  • my 3 degrees (the latter from world-renown conservatoire RNCM)
  • 2 tours across the UK with Theatre Alibi and a ‘scratch’ opera ensemble with verbatim opera composer Michael Betteridge.
  • Lastly, I was going to mention my concert series, Tea and Jam, as my unique venture for music in the community.

(See that? I can count backwards from 3!)

I was then gonna be really clever, and look to my ‘2020 vision’ (because puns are my everything), and I was going to list:

  • 1 concerto on bass clarinet already done
  • 2 cool projects including a collaboration with a composer
  • even writing up to 3 shows ready to go on tour in 2021/2022… and I was going to leave it there, an exciting cliff-hanger, waiting for Fate to take my hand and walk with me for the rest of the year…

Ms. Fate, my darling, I have a bone to pick with you: COVID-19 is not quite what I had in mind!

My Response to COVD-19

Suffice it to say, my career is looking outwardly rather different from that so-called 2020 Vision. Any live-audited gigging (i.e. performance with a face-to-face audience) has all but stopped for musicians everywhere, and any teaching which can be done online has been moved there.

The professional world has become the worshipping subject of Zoom, the God of connection. Here flutes are too quiet, saxes too loud… and clarinet Just Right.

That being said, I’m feeling calmer than I have in a long time. Considering the threat we’re all living through right now, this is strange. I don’t mind admitting that I have suffered from crippling anxiety for some years now, and yet it’s also strange that this is not registering nearly much at the moment. I’m doing all the things I possibly can to limit the spread of COVID19 as an individual. Those I love are safe and healthy, for now at least. As such, I find myself in possession of a new kind of sordid privilege.

And as for next steps…

As we shelter from this crisis, I have actually felt fully ready to write, play and just create for the first time in years. Tea and Jam has just released a new movement in fact, CoVids2020 (yay more tasteless puns), with a brand new video to match my VoiceOver Debut.

I am writing more content for my aforementioned show so as to hit the ground running when I eventually get back to some training opportunities which were going to help me with developing the concept. I’m going to my roots, learning tunes by ear and living in the moment.

So with that I’m going to stop writing this post and move onto planning and strategising the next 12 months – because if I can get through a COVID-tainted world, I can get through anything…!