Sunday, October 5, 2008

houston, ike, auditions, people, stuff

I have been back from Houston for a week already. It was a little strange to be there, especially at first, because of Hurricane Ike. There were many non-functioning traffic lights, which meant that going places could be slow, since there were essentially stop signs all over the place. And at first there was a curfew at night, but the one time we did drive someplace after dark, it was a little scary, because a lot of street lights were also down, making it easy to blow right though an intersection with a downed traffic light. By the time I got there (Thursday, the storm hit the morning of the Saturday before), most of the debris had been picked up and was sitting in enormous piles on the fronts of people's yards. There were still a few huge trees down that had yet to be chopped up, sometimes blocking streets. Electricity was random--some people had it back hours after the storm, others still didn't have it back when I left, two weeks after the storm hit. My house serendipitously got its power back about an hour before I got home, so that was nice. Also fortuitous: my house was undamaged, and the weather was freakishly cool and dry for Houston in September (lows in the upper 60s, highs in the low 80s, 40-50% humidity instead of 80-100°F and 90% humidity!), though our trees really took a beating. It remained weird to drive around town and just see random destruction: one house would be fine, the next would have a tree through it; a lot of billboards, awnings, and such were torn to shreds, but adjacent signs made out of stronger material were fine. Restaurants, stores, and schools were mainly closed when I arrived, but by the time I left ten days later, most things were getting back into the swing of things.

The audition I took was OK. It was my first opera & ballet audition, so many of the excerpts were quite unfamiliar to me when I began preparing them. A few days before the audition I kind of freaked out and felt like I did not know these pieces they way I knew the standard orchestral rep. Which was true, but that didn't mean that I hadn't worked hard on them or that they weren't basically under control. But it was enough to keep me from having a positive outlook on the audition, which was enough to keep me from playing my best. It was OK, but once again, reeds were an issue (um reeds are not supposed to close down when going from dry LA to humid Houston, but whatever). I've decided that when I get close to an audition I get a bit obsessed with practicing when honestly I would be better served by working on reeds so that I have a broader array of decent reeds to choose from when I get to the audition. But it FEELS more productive to practice, so it is hard to force myself to work on reeds instead. And honestly, once I get close to an audition, most of the hard practicing work should already be behind me, if things go according to plan. So I should really just work on reeds. Really. Anywho, I didn't advance, and what disappoints me most is that I think I actually could have had a decent shot at advancing had I managed to get my head in the right place. But that's how it goes, and I still learned a lot. And the dying roach in my warm-up room didn't help to put me in a positive frame of mind, either.

I also enjoyed being home, doing lots of shopping with my mom--hard work shopping, like trying on loads of clothes and only buying the two things that are perfect and majorly on sale, but still, I got some sorely needed items. We went to an Italian film festival at the MFAH featuring Pupi Avati and his brother Antonio, director and producer respectively. We saw Storia di ragazzi e di ragazze and Noi tre, the latter an interesting look at a teenage Mozart's brief stay in Bologna. I reconnected with a few people I hadn't seen in quite some time, which was fun, and I attended David & Katie's wedding, which was very nice. It was at their wedding actually, that I met up with an old friend from high school (the one who got me in trouble for laughing in English class), Joe Mathlete. Very funny guy, you should check out his stuff. And his music.

I also spent some quality time with my fave oboe & flute couple at their electricity-free home with their myriad creatures, including: 3 cats, 1 dog, 2 turtles, 1 rabbit, not sure how many tropical fish, and 8 or so chickens! Fun times. Meanwhile I got a bit lazy about reeds (hmm, I'm beginning to sense a pattern here . . . ) and so again wasn't pleased (this time entirely my fault--I knew I should have been working on reeds and just plain didn't! I was having too much fun hanging out with people I like, damnit.) with my reeds options for my next audition, to maintain my position in Debut. Fortunately, I did not lose my job. Though as the EH player, I will probably only play one or two concerts this season. Oh well, that's how it goes!

Now I am on to the next chapter, trying to get by in LA and also figure out where I want to be next year and how I am going to get there. These are not easy times to have just graduated with a master's in performance . . .

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