This week I start a series of outdoor concerts with the Northwest Indiana Symphony. I’ll be doing those for the next three weekends, in seven different little towns.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to. Our conductor, Kirk Muspratt, is a master at programming pops concerts. The seemingly unrelated batch of pieces I’ve been preparing will all make sense when we start playing, and he will segue them beautifully and really keep the audience paying attention and enjoying themselves. The mood will shift and sway, from upbeat to melancholy to nostalgic and back again, and everyone will leave feeling great. I’ve seen him do it over and over and I have every confidence that he’ll pull it off again this summer, and I admire that skill and enjoy watching it.
Here’s what I’m not looking forward to. Sweat, insects, clothespins on the music to keep the pages from blowing off, long commutes with questionable maps to tiny parks, rickety stages. Outdoor concerts are particularly unfun for oboes, I think – the reeds react like crazy in the humidity, and the wooden instrument does, too. The oboe is a quiet thing, designed for acoustically reverberant halls and moderately sized wooden rooms, not for The Great Outdoors. We have to be miked to be heard at all, and then there’s all that clutter on the stage and I never really believe that it’s working, so my contributions feel a little irrelevant.
All that said – work in the summer is work in the summer and I love what I do. Feel free to join us this Friday in Schererville or Saturday in Cedar Lake – the concerts will be much more fun to hear than to play which is certainly the way it should be.