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31Things | Day Fourteen: View


This is the view from my seat in the back of the orchestra. It's where you'll find me, at least two - if not three - nights every week during the school year. I like it in the back; I'm very comfortable there. Sometimes it can be hard to see the conductor, if we are not up on risers - but I can also hide fairly effectively from conductors I don't like, if I choose to.

It's also a great vantage point from which to harass the woodwinds. ;)

Winds, brass, and especially string players tend to stick close to their own kind; we really don't mix and mingle very much. It's kind of sad to admit this but I recognize most string players only by the backs of their heads.

I am proud to be a horn player, and to know that even a small section of 4 can easily overpower an entire string orchestra. We are definitely backseat drivers, leading from behind. Many times horn players bemoan getting stuck with page after page of repetitive, melodically uninteresting parts (think the "oom-pahs" in waltzes and marches); but when we play these parts we are actually the heartbeat of the orchestra. We control the tempo, and whether we play ridiculously fast, agonizingly slow, or in perfect time depends on what kind of mood we're in... We can also arrange it so that none of us is playing in the same tempo as any of the others (yes, we do that on purpose!) - and without a steady tempo, the whole piece falls apart. So don't mess with the horn section. ;)

Lately I've been practicing for my upcoming feature solo performance with the Houston Sinfonietta (pictured). Which means I'm now standing in front of the orchestra. It's a very different feeling! And a different sound - suddenly the violins have a certain density, vibrance, je ne sais quois to their sound that I don't hear from a distance. I can hear individuals, rather than a mass. And I am no longer looking at the backs of heads but at faces that are looking back! And if I crack a note there is no question which horn player is the culprit... Mea culpa! lol

Being the soloist has been an interesting and, yes, enjoyable experience. But when it's over, I will still be very happy to trade all the glory of a spot in the limelight for the comfort of my view from the back.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BULL AND AN ORCHESTRA? | On a bull, the horns are in the front, and the ass is in the back!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION | What's in your daily view?

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