Wednesday, April 13, 2011

playing shryock is about as good as it gets for a folk musician in southern illinois; it's a fine old brick auditorium on the siu campus that houses concerts from the best, although the orchestra plays there regularly of course, and it reminded me, while i was there today at noon, of my orchestra days, dressed like a penguin in a tuxedo, and dragging a cello around. every time i mention my cello the orchestra people beg me to get it out; they're kind of thin on cellos around here and i would almost certainly land on that shryock wooden-floor stage at least a few times a year, if i were to get it out and practice. once i was moving it and found that a mouse had had babies in it, but they didn't really destroy it so much as just make it stink for a while and make a very messy urban-removal project.

i got to perform on the fiddle, at noon, to an auditorium of 2nd through 7th graders and their teachers, from all over southern illinois, who were on campus for what's called arts and education day. or maybe it's arts IN education. in any case there are whole roving bands o young children and their teachers, wandering out amongst the sculpture gardens, and only a number of them converge for our particular show; we don't even get them all; and some of them are tired, and not much in the mood for music. nevertheless the accoustics are awesome; the architecture divine; there was a backstage dressing room, and lots of wires and stage props and that kind of stuff. my bandmate got nervous and didn't let me get a word in edgewise; she plowed right through the material and did a good job. I played well except for a single solo which i blew rather spectacularly for some odd reason; maybe it all overwhelmed me or something. aside from that, i was ok.

when i got out to the van, where i took the fiddle, this was about 12:30, there was a camel out in the parking lot, with a guy dressed in red and white stripes somewhat like thing one or thing 2. i have no idea where this camel came from though the circus supposedly has come to town, maybe that had something to do with it.

it's a busy time at work; there's a search for director, search for faculty (3 or 4), search for dean, other searches; we're teaching twenty hours but supposed to go home on Fri. afternoon as we aren't paid; we have meetings and coordinating duties and lots of this stuff is spilling over into evenings though i often just back out after a point; people are often too rushed to say hello though one person did ok when i told her about shryock, but began doubting me when i got to the part about the camel and thing two. i open the email to send myself a quiz i have made; it's now ten thirty at night and i still have a righteous pile of grading; the e-mail is full of conversations that are many e-mails long and must be laboriously followed. of course we should have a meeting, but who has time? of course we must do this but if we can live without, why not. i haven't even read the files.

i want to tell the kids about a guy who once came into my classroom with a cello. the minute i heard it i wanted to play the cello. i spent all my paper route money on a cello, a french one that is slightly too small for me, but which had a sweet sound. i then inherited a cello from my grandfather and foolishly sold it since i already had one. it was difficult at the time to move two cellos around; difficult even to move one, and i had kittens once, one of which fell from a high shelf and scratched the cello all the way down. which taught me, if anything, to keep it wrapped up. too bad, that made it easier, ironically, for the mouse. once the soundpost was broken i left it wrapped up; how do you fix a soundpost? let it be known that i will not only fix mine, but find that other cello that is out there in cello-world, probably not being played.

i end up not telling the kids about my inspiration; they are not especially inspired, though you never know, maybe one of them is. and then, i'm discredited of course by a lousy solo, so i might as well keep my mouth shut. but i do tell the teachers they're lucky. they watch whole batches of 10-year-olds and life doesn't get much better than that. a friend is there to take pictures and these i will post: panoramas of me playing southern illinois' best venue.

whole stands of dogwoods hide behind woods blooming in green but with pink, purple, all kinds of other colors in the distance. the dogwoods are having a fantastic year and the white blossoms set the table for the other stuff; it's really quite spectacular. there's fresh cool air and we tear around from here to there picking up kids, going to soccer practice, etc. sometimes i walk home, especially if i've missed my swim, this is good, i breathe the air, and get to see some of this stuff. the classes go by at breakneck speed. i'm behind; i need a vocabulary list, an exam study guide, an exam, surveys, and to get a huge stack graded by friday. there will be some stiff coffee in the morning.

maybe i ought to shut up about the camel. i'm sure someone was cleaning up after him but it might not have been thing two, who was dressed to entertain for some reason but whose truck was taking up a half dozen parking places. fortunately i wasn't going anywhere. in fact the van was hot so i wanted to wait a minute, doors open, before i even put the fiddle in it. don't tell them about the camel, and even skip the part about shryock. i've missed a few search committees. the ironic thing about the search committees is, they have all these meetings in order to invite people here, and then, people choose not to come here, maybe they know about the illinois budget situation. maybe they want to work friday afternoons, or get paid full time for a full time job. maybe a place like fairbanks or southern georgia looks better to them.

the botched solo, ironically, is on "all god's critters got a place in the choir," a perennial favorite by bill staines which we have a running argument about: are we crossing the line between church and state? surely the orchestras play the holy stuff here all the time and nobody says anything, or, they say all kinds of stuff but i'm too busy to hear it. in any case we never know if we'll get away with it or not, putting god in there, but i think in this case god reached back and yanked on my bow and pulled me out of my pleasurable daydream right in the middle of my solo. once you get derailed like that it's a heck of a thing trying to get back on track but by the end of the show nobody even remembered the disaster, or appeared to, except me and, you know what, i'd be better off if i just shut up about it. so consider it finished. pictures coming.


Anonymous Hollywood music for meditation said...

So you and your cello have traveled quite a distance it seems. Many memories with each other which even include being godparents to a mouse's birth. That line really made me laugh. There must be something in your cello that attract that poor mommy mouse to go there. And to think, this might have happened while your in a performance! I might have fainted if it did happen to me.

2:52 AM  
Blogger J-Funk said...

It is pretty weird to see a camel where it doesn't belong. I love the pictures of the auditorium where you played, that seems very high-class!! You better watch out, you're going to get really good at this and then what are you going to do?

10:47 PM  

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