Monday, January 30, 2012


Orchestra rehearsal for the Buffalo State Philharmonia starts again tonight.  I've enjoyed the break, (we've been off since Thanksgiving - love a college schedule!) but I'm ready to get back into it.  This is the 2nd orchestra I've played with since moving to Buffalo, as I played with the Amherst Community Orchestra about 4 years ago. I stuck with them for about 4 or 5 concerts. They were well supported by the community and had a long running organization. However, it wasn't a good fit for me for a lot of reasons, including it's location.

"Hipster Mozart" via the web

I joined the Philharmonia orchestra in September, after a summertime audition.  I hadn't auditioned for anything since my Music School audition in 1997. But I have played a handful of recitals, weddings and other "gigs". I struggle with nerves and the "inner game". I do much better when I play in the group, be it orchestra or quartet.

At least the Philharmonia audition went pretty well; I was prepared and it was just me and the conductor, who was so friendly and excited to hear me play. I walked out of that audition thinking that I was on my way to recovering from my crippling performance anxiety.

Nope.  I played a recital in December at the Community Music School of Buffalo, where I take lessons. They offer "Adults Only" recitals a few times a year. I choose to play without kids because it's always entertaining and inspiring.  People from all walks of life take lessons and play music as hobbies. This particular group ranges from high school aged to octogenarians. Everyone is a character. Most of the students in this recital sing. I am usually one of 2 string players with a couple other piano students. It's very laid back, no programs, no dressing up and only informal introductions. I played last so I had the whole 45 minutes to sit back and listen.  I didn't know that I was going to get so nervous, as I thought I was past it after my successful Philharmonia audition.  I walked up to the front of the room and started shaking.  I introduced myself, pushed out a few words about the piece I was playing - everything was happening so fast and I was losing the composure in my head. I started off heavy and fat-fingered.  I almost started over, but instead mumbled "come on!" to my hand and viola while trying to play a part I never mess up.

After the recital my teacher's husband says, "You know how long it took me to play without getting nervous? 50 years".  Is that comforting?  I don't want to wait another 20 years for this to subside.  Yuck!

Anyway, "dorkestra" starts tonight!  That's what Adam calls it.  One of the pieces we will be playing is Mozart's "Paris" Symphony:

Mozart - Symphony No. 31 "Paris" in D - KV297

Do you like it?


  1. Your life sounds so interesting, you have such a beautiful profession. I am Cultural Manager and I work for foundation that promotes young musicians.

    You have a really cool blog here. Do you want to follow each other, I would love that.

  2. Oh boy, you know... if I had the time to commit to practicing, I would totally want to join an orchestra again. I played with the UB Orchestra a couple semesters and loved it. I want to hear more about your experience with Buff State - who's in it? I wish I had two lives to live, one for art and one for music. :)

  3. Amy, the Philharmonia is half community members half students. The conductor is Paul Ferrington, who is a staff conductor of the BPO. He is very organized and I really like the way he runs rehearsals. I think this is the orchestra's 3rd season, so it's still finding it's place.

    I hear you on the 2 lives thing, but there's also the 3rd life for work and the 4th life for cats and home! Sometimes I feel like I only have time to just scratch the surface.

  4. Many players find that they get over recital nerves by just playing enough times in front of people that they got comfortable with it. It's a lot like dealing with fear of public speaking.