Gig Night & Solos

The West City Concert Band played their 40th anniversary gig at the local Croatian Club last Saturday. It doubled as a wine & cheese night where each table was given large platters of food throughout the night; the place was packed out. After the concert band, a 20 piece big band finished up the night while a massive cake was being served out. Those keen (or crazy) enough to do so, got up for a dance to some of the big band’s numbers which involved a crooner singing numbers like New York, New York.

That’s the context of what I’m going to share.

I had a couple of decent solos to play that night. One was bits and pieces within a Benny Goodman number and the other was the fantastic Victor’s Tale; a clarinet feature piece which is an arrangement of the music by John Williams from the film The Terminal.

Victor’s Tale is a great piece. It’s got a klezmer character, reasonably challenging and a good way of showing off a bit. There are a couple of places though that require a bit of attention such as the concluding ‘moving in thirds’ pattern. I wanted to ace that part for the concert.

So I practised it up and got it pretty good.

Unfortunately I wasn’t really 100% on my game that night. To the audience it probably sounded amazing but I set a high standard of myself so my fingers not really flowing well upset some of the phrasing. I think the 4 hours of teaching earlier in the day may have compounded with the obligatory nerves that ultimately put me off my game a bit. It was good enough for a gig.

Now, even though this is clarinet feature, it was a great piece to add something extra in the form of a couple of acro-yoga dancers. So while I played, I was half watching the performance of this couple which included throwing the girl around a bit. They’d choreographed something specially for this piece (as if dancing to a story) so when they concluded their ‘story’, the audience naturally applauded…

…just before that passage which I’d busted my ass to practise.

In the notes leading up to my challenging thirds passage I was laughing to myself (internal laugh of course because I had a clarinet stuck in my mouth) because here I was psyching myself up for this passage and the audience’s applause of the dancers was going to drown it out!

I aced the passage.

The piece finishes, everyone’s applauding and I acknowledge the audience but in mind mind I’m thinking about how much I worked on something that no one heard.


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