first concert of 2011

on nineth day of the new decade, i had a great pleasure of playing two beautiful piano quartets with friends here in england.  i live in a small village called chinley in derbyshire.  there is where minnows weave.  about 45 min or an hour away from manchester (depending whether you drive or do the train), we are just a little dot in the middle of the gentle hills, in the peak district, the second most visited national parks of the world.  i think the honour of 'most-visited' goes to mt. fuji.  in 'mainstreet' chinley, we have a carpet shop (it's been there for ages and i am yet not sure how it retains its business), a chemist's, a royal post office, a deli store (i have yet to set my foot in there- they opened up for almost a year now i think?), a curry shop, a newsagents, a laundromat and a corner shop.  ooh and a hair dresser's and a hypnotist's office.  we actually do not have a pub in the village, so for a pint, we need to walk about ten minute down the road, cross to the next village, whitehough, then one may make a choice between two facing pubs- old hall inn vs. oddfellows.  

in chinley, as far as i know, there are three church-related buildings.  there's a turnpike, right by the railway bridge, which i am not sure whether it still serves as a religious place (i used to think that it mustve been converted to something different but just this winter, on 31st december, i saw a bride fiddling with the hem of her wedding dress, trying to stay dry on the flagstones, so im returning to the 'unknown' state).  there's an old methodist church where minnow's younger brother once had a 10th birthday party.  this place has now been converted to a big open-concept loft and it belongs to the principle bassoon of bbc phil and his strong firelady wife.  and then there's st. mary's, a small-ish turn of the century (190something) congregation building, right down by the alpha road junction. literally may be 20 m away from home.  and here's something nice about mary's: they have a grand piano! and it's got nice acoustics. 

many musicians who work in manchester prefers to live out of manchester.  which means one must drive or take the train. so along manchester-sheffield line, there are these small pockets of concentrated orchestral musicians.  minnow used to live little bit closer to the city, in whaley bridge, then eventually settled in chinley, prob extra 5-10 min journey.  and this is why chinley holds so many professional musicians.  quickly running through my head, i think there are two bassists (married to one another), ex-principle oboe of the phil (now a yoga guru), current principle oboe of the phil and the freelancer cello husband, principle bassoon and the firelady used to play piccolo and flute, minnow and another first fiddle sectional player (and her husband who works as examiner for the abrsm system), cello no. 3 and cor anglaise with their lovely daughter, a violist/accordion/keyboard player in the neighbouring village. and me, the seasonal occupant.

and because they all miss chamber music a bit (yay) it turned into my good fortune.  for some reason, i find chamber music the best of all genres of music, where musicians are connected so deeply and honestly, without extra directions or compromises.  so we often read at a house gathering, or even put together a concert.  yesterday's concert was a piano quartet double bill, mozart e flat major and schumann e flat major, with elgar's salut d'amor in the middle.  and st. mary's is a great location (down a few steps from the house) and it's got a decent piano (the examiner and cello no. 3 conspired with the church music person to raise money for it and now it is here! yay) which naturally attracts chamber music bugs like us.

but there are a few glitches once in awhile.  and this concert also had its crisis.  after the penultimate rehearsal, violist unfortunately threw his back out and completely seized up. we missed him a great bit, as it is always a shame for someone to pull out at the very end.  but we were lucky.  a redhaired irish heroine came to the rescue.  she's also with the phil and she was fearless in a sense that she just spontaneously agreed to jump in and learn two quartets over night.  and IT WAS GOOD.

we had a good house for the sunday afternoon and raised quite a bit of sum for the church organ fund.  but most importantly (and happily), they listened and left with great sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.  and we played and left to pinting with great sense of comradeship and joy.  

i play so many different roles within the realm of music.  i played in big places like notre dame, paris and gewandhaus, leipzig.  i also play for little 10 years-old violin exams and last minute recording sessions. i will be moving lots of chairs and coiling cables under the mic stands.  and it's easy to forget what it's all about- what is this music business all about? why do i bother? was my training and years of commitment all wasteful because i am financially not so successful?

nah. all i need to do is keep self sane by keeping the important things alive in my mind, like passion and laughter.  like a good chamber music rehearsal, where people may argue over the smallest ink blop on the page for hours, only to exchange cheers at a pub post rehearsal.  it's about being human, this arts business. and that's why i do it, though i may not be a millionaire anytime soon.

i have some stuff booked for the spring and there'll be more.  i wonder what kind of playing i will be doing and how i would feel about it.  but for now, yesterday's concert at st. mary's was a bloody good start for the year. for this decade. thanks to all who enjoy life and music.  it's good to be a human being.

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