September 30, 2008

Where oh where does the RPO go? (+FREE concerts this week!)

Every year it seems I run into people that wonder where the RPO goes between our summer and winter seasons. Well, each orchestra has its own contract that specifies how many weeks of work per year there are. The “big” orchestras in the largest cities usually have a 52 week contract, with all their paid vacation time built into those 52 weeks. I think at some point in the history of the RPO, it might have been like that, but it hasn’t been like that with our orchestra in a long time. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, our contract has gone a little backwards, so that we have a number of weeks without work both before and after our summer season. People often wonder and ask where we go, what we do, etc. I guess the easy answer is anything and everything. :) People tend to think we're all on vacation, which is kind of true, except that we aren’t paid. So, many of us look for work elsewhere – anything from teaching locally, playing in various festivals around here or the country, or maybe even subbing or going on tour with another orchestra should the chance arise. Other than that, as my colleague Kathy said in her blog, we use the time to refresh after a long season. The RPO musicians have tons of interests outside of music – let me see if I can think of some of the more fun/interesting/unusual ones that people might not know about. We have(had) beer/wine makers, quilters, vintage automobile collectors/restorers, tri-athletes, instrument/bow makers, birders, hikers, shoe collectors, and a number of avid gardners, excellent cooks/bakers, and athletes. The list goes on and on! Since there’s not always time during our season to delve into our interests as much as we’d like, the layoff offers a little bit of opportunity to do so.

This year, among other things, I spent quite a bit of time outside taking care of a lot of yard work (lots of rain this year!) and projects around the house. I also got a chance to spend a little time visiting with family outside of Chicago. Since my family is kind of spread out across the US, I don’t get to see them that often, so I enjoy visiting when I am able. My two nephews have recently started learning how to play string instruments– violin and cello (see pics). So, as you can guess, part of my visit included helping to teach and practice with them. Calvin started playing cello a little over a year ago and Christian just started playing violin (less than a month now). He’s always wanted to play either the violin or the trombone???? Go figure. I, along with my sister, am glad that he made the right choice. No offense to you fine trombonists out there. J It was a lot of fun to work with them and I'm happy to say that Christian already plays a mean Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - and most importantly, with a good sound too! In exchange, they gave me a short lesson on Rock Band. :)

If you’re like me, it’s hard to transition from the warm, bright, long-lasting days of Summer, into the chillier and shorter days of Fall and Winter. This week, the forecast doesn’t look too good with cold temps and rain, rain, rain. If you’re looking for something to do this week (Thurs. and Sat.) that will help with the transition from outdoor to indoor activities, why not come out, sit back and enjoy one of our Around the Town concerts this week (you can find specifics of the free concerts at Not only will you be able to hear some great music, but the concerts are free, which should help take your mind off of all the bad economic news ….at least for one night! We go to different communities throughout the year and play these shorter, slightly less formal concerts to share our music with people that sometimes might not otherwise come to the Eastman Theater. There's always some sort of "theme" to each of these concerts, and there's often a time during the concert that's open for a short question/answer session with the audience, so think up some good questions in case you get the chance!! We're always happy to have a full audience and it's a great way to introduce your kids to music since the concerts are a little more kid-friendly. Hope you get a chance to stop by this week or at some other concerts this year!

No comments: