This is THAT week of the season. I am playing a concert and looking forward to it – but I have had to turn down three other concerts which conflicted directly. I have three weeks off after this one – why could no one schedule their performance then?
There are a lot of factors that go into the calculus of which gig you play when this situation arises. Money, repertoire, obligation, and opportunity, to name a few. I thought it might be interesting to look at my thought process.
This weekend represented a conflict between two orchestras that I play with regularly. I’ve known about this conflict since summer, and the decision in this case was obvious. The Northwest Indiana Symphony was doing one of its four “Maestro” concerts of the year – a classic symphony concert with big repertoire. South Bend is doing Broadway Pops. I love a Broadway tune, but I entered the field of classical music to play symphonies, and Tchaikovsky 4 has a lot to offer an oboist. Also, the NISO concert is 5 services, and South Bend has only 3. Also, NISO is close enough to home that I can teach my normal student load and play the quintets associated with the South Bend week, so it’s economically a win-win.
In the last two weeks, though, I was called for two other gigs. One was Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet in Tulsa, OK. I love this piece – Prokofiev makes the hairs on my neck stand up in a very good way. And I always enjoy a paid trip out of town, and I’d never played with this group before, and it was very tempting. But this was not apt to be a new regular gig for me – they clearly were desperate and calling ANYONE they could find, and no matter how well I played at the gig it wouldn’t turn into regular sub work. Too far away, too expensive for the orchestra to bring me in.
I was also called to play in Milwaukee, which would have been amazing – the orchestra there is so good, and so inspiring, and I could have stayed in Chicago with my sister and had a great time. I love playing with the MSO. But as much as I wanted to take this one, I was pretty sure of my place on the sublist and knew that turning it down wouldn’t kill me professionally.
Honestly, it came down to obligation. It’s not cool to duck a concert at the last minute, especially on a busy week like this. There’s a lot of oboe on the concert in Northwest Indiana and I didn’t want to leave the orchestra in a bind. I need to play a certain number of services there to maintain my tenure, and although I might have made more money in Tulsa or Milwaukee this week those gigs are not regular work. I need to be responsible to my contracted work so that it continues to pay out for me.
If I had had more notice on these other gigs, or if the concert had been less oboistic, or if I didn’t have such a nice combination of orchestra, teaching, and quintet services this week my calculus might have been very different. We always make these calls on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile, in Northwest Indiana this Saturday we are playing the Schumann Piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky 4. We have plenty of rehearsal time and a nice performance venue at Bethel Church. I’m looking forward to it and recommend attendance. Details and tickets HERE.