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Playing Elijah February 9, 2009

Posted by flutebrarian in Music Performances.
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The first and only time that I have ever played Mendelssohn’s Elijah was as a terrified high school senior. I had been playing second flute to my flute teacher in a community orchestra with the man who would become my college flute teacher as the conductor. This year was my first experience playing in an orchestra and a great experience to prepare me for college.

Then my flute teacher dropped the bomb – she couldn’t play the Elijah concert. She wanted ME to play principal.

Shyly (as I did many things then) I agreed, not knowing what I was up against. Somehow, I made it through the performance and was completely overwhelmed by the whole experience.

Fast forward about 34 years…

Now, I have about 12 years experience as the principal flute in the Tuscarawas Philharmonic Orchestra and it’s Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday. Time to bring Elijah back to life!

I can honestly say that none of the oratorio sounded familiar, except for the crazy E major scale with the long D# trill at the end in one of the movements. This time, the run and the trill went off without a hitch. A triumph at last.

The performance went extremely well and Ron Barkett was an incredible Elijah. I found myself in a trance as I sat through my tacet movement while listening to the wonderful duet between Ron and principal cellist Elaine Anderson. Wow. Just beautiful.

And conductor Eric Benjamin – where would we be without him? His ability to pull chorus, soloists, staging and orchestra together is uncanny. He makes our work so easy and definitely never boring…

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Not Your Typical Christmas Concert December 16, 2007

Posted by flutebrarian in Music Performances.
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Playing a Christmas/Holiday concert with the Tuscarawas Philharmonic is never a dull thing. I’ve played many Christmas concerts over the life of my community band and orchestra career and many a painful Christmas sing-along after the long ordeal of Nutcracker Suites/Leroy Anderson medleys/Messiah excerpts leaves one’s chops sore and tired.

But not so with an Eric Benjamin concert. Sure, there are plenty of familiar Christmas tunes to put one in the mood for the season, but Eric interweaves them with intricate counter-melodies and lots and lots of notes and noodles. Let’s just say one does not expect to sight read the concert!

This year’s concert included what seemed to be a smaller children’s chorus than usual, although the sound and enthusiasm from the kids seemed much more lively than normal. One of my favorites was brought out from the vault (kind of like the Disney animated movies) this year, “Here in My House,” a delightful partner song to unite Christmas and Hanukkah¬† traditions.

Our workout for this year was a new work called “Music for a December Day.” This turned out to be quite a workout and one that I definitely will need to brush up on my scales up to high C# and D to be able to play next year. Ah, but the effect was there at least. Thank goodness for doubling with the piccolo!

But wait! There’s more…

Not only were we joined by the kids’ chorus, but Divine Hope, a gospel group from Akron, Ohio performed a set of holiday numbers with us as well. The rhythms and accidentals are tricky with these arrangements since they are transcribed from aural recordings before they are orchestrated.¬† But we let the music happen and with only a couple of glitches, the performance was met with wild enthusiasm from both audience and orchestra.