Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Keeping the schedule

One thing I have learned over the past six months of fatherhood is that schedules are important. Before we had Annie, I was sure that parents who suggested that their baby had the same nap times, feedings times and bed times were being way too detailed in their schedule. Now I realize how important it is - sorry for you doubting you - even though you don't know who you are.

Speaking of schedules, it's been a bit of a shock to get back into my own routine this September, perhaps part of the reason is the schedule isn't completely locked in yet is that I've had three weekend choir retreats in a row, for three different choirs Even though most of my daily activities are planned by course calendars and regular rehearsals, it's still been challenging to plan the "grey" time in the calendar to make sure I'm ready for the next scheduled activity.

I haphazardly put in my google calendar my intention to go to the gym three times a week - that hasn't happened yet. Not to make excuses, even though I'm rather good at doing that when it comes to the gym, but I'm just in the middle of the "first-week-of classes-let's-share-all-our-germs" flu. I think the rough part is over, but there are still some lung issues to clear out before I can participate in anything cardio-like.

The one night a week I'm hoping to keep as an unscheduled night, or free from work anyway, is Tuesday. It is currently the only night a week where I am actually home, with the family. Traditionally, we have made this a Movie night, but lately it's become the night where we catch up on things we have let our PVR record. Tonight, I'm taking a few minutes to add to the blog - maybe this will also be a blog night?

The other thing I'm trying to be more conscious about is at what time of night does my work stop - how late is too late to answer an email or respond to a text? What expectations am I setting for myself, and others when I respond to emails in the middle of the night (or on Tuesday nights when I am supposed to be spending time with loved ones in the house!)

I'd be curious to know from your freelance types how you manage your schedule, how you balance regular events with irregular events and work with family. Do you have a night a week where you intentionally don't book anything just to be home? Do you have a no-text or email cut-off time at night?

Speaking of which, it's Tuesday night, and Annie is in bed. Time to close the computer and spend the next hour trying to agree on a movie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why, Hello there!

For the past few weeks I've been searching for a new life for this space. It was once the busy home of my musing on the life of a freelance musician, biting the edge of a career as a conductor, an organist and a chorister.

I'm still not sure how to resurrect the old blog, and it will take some time to figure that out. However, in the mean time, here are some updates:

This year, I am continuing work as organist and director of music of a thriving Anglican parish - now entering my 15th year there (hard to believe), and I'm also entering year eight as conductor of a community chamber choir. I'm still on sessional staff at a local private university college, where I teach musicology. Added to my portfolio at the university college this year is the job of conducting the concert choir during a leave of the incumbent. So far, this choir has brought me great joy - exceeding all early expectations. I'm really looking forward to the year I have with them.

The newest job of my life though, which I started last spring, on March 14th to be exact, was the job of being a Dad. After six months into the job, I'm still not exactly sure what it is I am doing, or what to expect next. Every day is a new adventure, and every day I love my daughter more. I think of all the jobs I have - this one is surely my favourite. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ring out the old; Ring in the new

2012 has creep-ed up on me, and as I look through my blog posting history of 2011, it's a surprise that google has allowed me to continue residency in this place. Perhaps a simple New Year's resolution would be to put out a post once a week, heck, even once a month would be an improvement!

Before I look at what is to come in 2012, let's look back at 2011, picking up somewhere in September.

It's been, to say the least, a very busy season. I've participated, either as a chorister or conductor, in seven different concert programs. One with Scona Chamber Singers, three with Da Camera Singers, and four with Pro Coro. Ok, I cheat a bit - Da Camera and Pro Coro collaborated on a concert the week before Christmas, and I just counted that one twice - but I had to double up rehearsals with the two different choirs, so it is fair to count it twice.

A very exciting year for all three choirs though, let's stat with the youngest, Scona Chamber Singers. this is our third full season as an ensemble in Edmonton - specializing in early music repertoire. We have a very close association now with Early Music Alberta, also in its fledgling state as a society, just a year and a half old. In October, we mounted a one to a part concert of the madrigals of Monteverdi and Gesualdo. It was a great collaborative effort from the five of us who sang. And a great reminder to me of just how difficult the music of Gesulado is! We were successful, two years in a row now, at securing a bit of grant money from the provincial arts granting organization, and continue to receive support from both my church concert series, as well as Early Music Alberta. I think, in due time, this ensemble will flourish - but it will continue to take some work.

Da Camera is celebrating its 50th anniversary as an ensemble. No, there are no original members in the choir anymore, however we are having a great time going through archive material, and notifying past members to come back in March to join us for a weekend of socializing, and most importantly, singing! Already, since September, we have performed three concerts. One complete a cappella concert of new music and past commissions of the choir, then a collaboration with Alberta Baroque Ensemble, and then the aforementioned collaboration with Pro Coro Canada.

Pro Coro Canada is having an exciting year as well - six concert with six different conductors. The first three were concerts that featured candidates for the position of Artistic Director of the choir. This was an absolutely fascinating process for me as a chorister in the choir. The opportunity to observe three different conductors styles and expertise was as much of a great an experience from a musical standpoint as it was professional development. I learned something from all of them, and took features of conducting style, repertoire selection, diction lessons, and rehearsal planning, and brought them with me to my own ensembles. It was invaluable as a conductor to be able to be a part of this. There is still an official gag order on the selection itself, but no matter which direction the choir takes, we will be in very good hands.

The rest of my choral season of 2012 will bring more memorable moments, and another extremely busy period for the next few months. First, Scona Chamber Singers will present a concert of music from the Sistine Chapel this coming Sunday. We will feature music of Allegri mostly, including a complete performance of his Missa 'che oggi il mio sole (as well as the famed Miserere Mei), but a few other great composers as well. We'll meet again in mid-April for a concert as part of the 2nd annual Early Music Festival, however, my involvement will be limited - more on that later. Pro Coro has concerts in mid-February and early April to round out their season, but the most involved work for me will be with Da Camera.

Our anniversary concert weekend is slated for the first weekend of March. We have invited all almuni members of the choir to join us for the chamber performance of Carmina Burana. The response has been great, and we expect around 90 singers for this performance. However, only a week before that, we will be performing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in a choral concert, with a few other local choirs, in a performance of the Poulenc Gloria, as well as works of Bach, Mendelssohn and Schubert. All this music needs to be learned in two months, or about eight rehearsals (including Carmina!) so needless to say, it's going to be busy. After that weekend is done, we revisit Rachmaninoff's All Night Vigil with Spiritus Chamber Choir of Calgary for two performance (one here, one there). At least that's not until May, so a few months to put that back in our ears. We performed it about six years ago, so it should come back fairly quickly.

AND (if I haven't mentioned this before) in mid-April, Kathleen and I will welcome our first child into the world. So ... 2012... Here we go! I hope you're ready!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Singing Tweets

A good friend of mine (also a very fine conductor, and tenor ... and a one-time roommate of mine) has been working in Calgary for the last few years, both as the conductor of the Spiritus Chamber Choir and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus.

Calgary's tourism bureau asked people to tweet in ideas of how to warm up during the cold Alberta winters. After some editing and compiling, the CPO set it to O Fortuna (as they were in the middle of production of Orff's Carmina Burana), and it is quickly turning into a Twitter viral video. So much so, that Tim Shantz, and the video will be featured on Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room tonight!

For a sneak peak though, here's the video (Tim is conducting in the video):

I hope you are all finding ways to keep warm!

UPDATE: Here's what the news report looked like on CNN (you may have to wait through a short commercial first, I'm still at a loss as to why we need commercials on internet videos....)

Thursday, October 27, 2011