Monday, June 25, 2012

Upon reflection sur la montagne

With the celebrations of the baroque and the sun which shone brightly over it now complete, our hemisphere has now begun to darken, though only slightly, day by day.

Always a display of the highest-quality, the Festival montréal baroque is never short of energetic, fun programming ideas. Over the past two years, I have been very fortunate to have been included as part of its own ensemble, la bande Montréal baroque. My work with them has demanded much from me, yet it is the most fulfilling work I have done.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Horsing around in Montreal

The Festival montréal baroque is celebrating its tenth anniversary this weekend with quite the program. Titled "Apocalypse", in line with the Mayan predictions, the festival lineup was inspired by the themes of revelation and transformation.

One of the main attractions this year is a reproduction of an equestrian ballet first performed in 1612. That's right, horses will be dancing.

The four horses (representing war, pestilence, famine, and death), along with four dancers from the baroque dance troupe Les Jardins chorégraphiques, will be accompanied by a 21-strong band of oboes, bassoons, sackbuts, cornets, fifes, drums, and trumpets as they dance in the open air.

This past Wednesday, the band got its first chance to run with the horses. Not a common gig, the rehearsal was quite the show in itself. With mosquitos flying, barn smells, dogs barking, and plenty of dust, if one were to have been driving by the farm a band of historical musicians would have been the least likely sight to expect to see.

The event looks to be quite the spectacle and I am told that it has been completely sold out for a while now. If you have a ticket, Good on You!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breaking Winds Crowd-Funding First Album

The Breaking Winds, the world's most famous bassoon quartet (I'm making that up, or am I?), have decided to fund their upcoming debut CD, 'Breaking In', through Kickstarter. They plan for their disk to include both original arrangements and compositions. Check out all the details HERE. Or take a look at the video below... or both.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Andy's Handy Hints: Take a Load Off

Producing a concert takes a ton of effort. We can all do it if we set our minds to it, but the more we wear the manager hat, the more difficult it becomes to perform our best come concert time. I've produced six concerts in which I've performed in over the past two years, each demanding a different workload. Unsurprisingly, the more I have been involved behind the scenes, the less impressed I was with my own musical performance.

So, in preparation for the OVO's concert on the 1st of June, I made sure that I could hand off as much work as possible to others. Firstly, I sought out a sponsorship with the Austrian Embassy in Ottawa. Their work towards the event was excellent as they promoted the event on their mailing list and website, as well as provide a wine & cheese reception following the show. Secondly, I managed to get us back on a local concert series called Ars Nova. Ars Nova handled all ticket purchases, stage set-up and take-down, program printing, as well as promotion on their website and mailing list. Without Ars Nova's help, the concert wouldn't have been possible.

Sometimes we want our concerts to go exactly the way we see it in our mind's eye, but if we were to control every part of the production, we would most likely end up like Colin in the High School drama below (skip to 2:00 if it doesn't already do so). The more work you hand off to another, the better your chances for a good performance.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Andy's Handy Hints: Living Arrangements

If there's a gig worth remembering, it's certainly not the one where the organizer left you hanging when it came to finding you a place to stay. Unfortunately, bad adventures such as those often come to mind much quicker than others. Coincidentally, the bad gigs are what you likely talk about the most with your musical friends.

Our concert on the 1st of June had two out-of-town guests, Roseen and Alice, who stayed with my parents and, upon the arrival of my English grandparents, their neighbors over two weeks. They didn't have to worry about meals, most transit around town was covered, they had constant access to computers/WiFi, and they could practice during daytime hours at their leisure (when not at a rehearsal, of course).

Though they had to put up with my dubious bassooning and my head in the clouds (being the chief behind the scenes, I was working on all aspects of the concert extra-musical), I trust they enjoyed themselves.

Bad news spreads quickly in the music world and you don't want to be the subject of that conversation. So when you have a few friends in town for your show, treat them better than you'd expect to be treated yourself. You might be surprised what comes your way later.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Andy's Handy Hints: Scheduling Rehearsals

In preparation for our concert on the 1st of June, the OVO rehearsed over 10 days. Though we were comforted by the ample rehearsal time (we only gave ourselves three days to prep for our concert in October), there were many pieces with varying instrumentation and scheduling was difficult. In order, then, to be as efficient as possible, I decided it might be best to go digital when making a calendar.

After collecting rough timeframes from the six members, I used a Google calendar to input a draft schedule. Once an ensemble schedule is created, members can either be invited to specific events as 'guests' (which would then be added to their own google calendar) or to view the entire calendar. Google calendars can record any details that might be needed for a rehearsal, not just time and location (integrated with Google maps), as there is a 'description' box in the event details panel. Events can be color-coded if need be.

Google calendars are compatible with Apple's iphone, ipod touch, and ipad calendar app and any changes made from either end (website or device) are updated immediately. The calendar can also be embedded into a website. Embedding comes with a catch, however. If not every member of the group has a google account that has been authorized by you to see the calendar, it must be made public in order to be visible. Public calendars are visible in Google searches and by anyone who stumbles onto the webpage you embedded the calendar into.

With a technologically-savvy ensemble, Google calendars could be extremely useful. Unfortunately, however, not all of the ensemble adjusted to it as quickly as I had hoped. Despite this, it was easy to update, and notifications of scheduling changes could be done with a link to the calendar without any reiterating.

Alice, our violinist for the show, also recommended Doodle, a service which focuses on scheduling problems such as those encountered by a chamber ensemble. Though I have never used Doodle, my friends have found it very useful in creating schedules as it includes a poll which asks those involved about their availability.

So take a look at both websites, or the one you're the least familiar with, and let me know which one might work best for you!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Andy's Handy Hints: Concert Prep, Introduction

This past Friday, Ensemble Our Very Own performed a concert of baroque music centering around Vienna. The concert was sponsored by the Austrian Cultural Forum and was our second on the Ars Nova concert series. 

A few weeks ago, I decided to keep a log of my activities leading up to the event which I thought might prove useful to others. Those activities will appear over the course of the next week under the tag "Andy's Handy Hints".

Keep an eye out for them.
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