Sunday, March 28, 2010

CaReEr yO!

Oh man, I think it's been over a week since I posted! This is because I was actually busy all week, which has for sure not happened in probably a month and a half.

So here is the run-down!

On Monday and Wednesday, I played for a recital of about ten Pied Piper teens. Pied Piper is a youth theatre way uptown, like at 200th (near a very delicious and relatively cheap little pizza joint, as I discovered when I got there), right off the A train, in an Episcopal Church. I had emailed their music director, Rey-Rey, offering my services as an accompanist, and so he invited me to play for the recital. There was a rehearsal on Monday, during which I sightread through 15 or 20 songs, some of which were reasonable and some of which were "Shiksa Goddess" (one of Jason Robert Brown's harder songs - and the thing about JRB is that, all of his songs are difficult, but most of them have the same accompaniment, only in different keys and time signatures, so once you get the hang of the pattern, most of his stuff because relatively easy and very fun. About 15 or 20% of his songs, though, have completely different accompaniment, and are at least as difficult, if not more so. Those are the ones that are challenging for me now!).

Anyway, though, Rey-Rey felt that it was important for me to be pretty much flawless on the songs (I took this to mean note-for-note, for the most part, rather than just chording and rhythm and improv, which works really well at most auditions, for example), since the kids are not very confident and are used to singing with the same accompanist all the time time. So he gave me about half of the songs to take home and practice and play for the recital on Wednesday, and he played the other half. This seemed reasonable to me. Of course, he ended up giving me some of the hardest songs (minus "Don't Do Sadness" from Spring Awakening, which doesn't have a lot of notes but does have the rhythm guitar part in the left hand, which is suuuuuuuper awkward to play on the piano), including "Shiksa Goddess," which I subsequently went home and practiced like a madwoman (I had Alex sing it. He has excellent musicality and is accustomed to working with any pianist, but he didn't know the song very well, so I thought that was a good trade-off to get a somewhat teen-accompaniment-like experience) until I was not completely confident but was nevertheless pretty good at it.

So guess who, of course, was one of the only two kids not to show up on Wednesday?

Correct. The "Shiksa Goddess" kid. I didn't know whether to be relieved (because I was still a little nervous about playing the song) or frustrated (because I'd practiced it more than anything!). Oh well! The recital went off well; I did not make mistakes; I had fun with the students; made a little money; ended up on Rey-Rey's list of substitute accompanists, because he liked the work I did. So all-in-all quite the success, I think.

On Thursday and Friday I had rehearsal and performance with the NYU Gospel Choir. Fun stuff! I had ended up paying a guy $10 a song to transcribe the chords for the two songs I couldn't find anywhere (the third one I found the sheet music for online and bought for $6), and it was super super worth it. The choir probably can't reimburse me, because they don't have much money, but I knew that would probably be the case when I decided to go ahead and do it, and I am comfortable paying $26 (and of course noting it down in my records as a work expense!) in order to make $200.

Anyway, it was super fun. It's me and the drummer, named Alex, and the choir, who are great, and we just get to rock out on all these songs. The lyrics, of course, are frequently appalling* (my favorite so far: "The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you. So easy!"), and they have prayer circles at the beginning and end of every meeting, which I stand it when they invite me because I don't feel like having a whole conversation about how I am not a Christian, which I think would kind of freak them out, and anyway that is kind of uncomfortable, but whatevs. Usually I am super comfortable freaking out Christians, but I am fond of all these people, and also they are paying me, and also we have a good time rocking out to their Christian songs, so I don't want to throw a kink in that.

Moving on. On Friday I found out that I got the Adirondacks job! So I will officially be music directing for 3-4 weeks (the kids are there for three weeks; I'm there for almost four) at Long Lake Camp this summer, from June 22 to July 18 or 19 (depending on when my show on the 18th is, which affects when they can get me either to a train station or, if I'm lucky, all the way back to the city).*** It was kind of a risk for them to hire me, as I have zero experience leading an orchestra, but Geoff, the guy I talked to on the phone, really liked me, and of course I think they are right to hire me! I'm scared stiff of leading an orchestra, and of learning to do it in 3 weeks, during which 3 weeks I will also be learning to play two musicals' worth of music on the piano, teaching it all to kids, figuring out which orchestra parts are essential and assigning musicians, teaching master classes, eating meals with kids, living with kids, and probably never sleeping. But I am also confident that I can do it, because it is just music, and I can do music.

So that is that.

Also on Friday I got a call from Kids Creative, an after school and summer program that wants me to be an assistant teacher in an after school music class once a week for nine weeks, but of course it conflicts with my only other weekly commitment, playing for Leigh's voice lessons down at NYU, so I will have to tell them no when I call them back. But the woman I talked to also mentioned that if it doesn't work with my schedule, they still may have some summer positions opening up that they could talk to me about, and when I looked it up, I found that one of their summer sessions conflicts with Long Lake, but two of them do not, so maybe something will work out there.

And then yesterday I attended auditions for Music Theatre of Wichita, which is a big deal company even though they are in Kansas, at the invitation of Michael Lavine, who is a hotshot accompanist/vocal coach/owner-of-one-of-the-largest-private-sheet-music-collections-in-the-world, and who is also a very nice guy who is helping me out. He was accompanying the auditions; I got to sit at the table and hang out with the people running the thing, including Roger Castellano, who is Dennis' brother (for those of you not intimately familiar with my time at UCI, Dennis Castellano is the champion musical theatre teacher there, who is super great, who taught me how to actually be good at songs, and who was also my thesis adviser!). It was super fun, and also Michael bought me breakfast: an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox, which of course is the most delicious thing ever. Also, someone (maybe Carol?) bought everyone lunch, meaning I ended up with a full meal's worth of leftover pesto linguine with onion and chicken, because I have a very small stomach. Also, I gave everyone my card, which was exciting.

Also, Dennis is in town! He is playing for some of the classes of the UCI New York Satellite Program, which is also in town! Also for the UCI Musical Theatre Major Undergrad Showcase (they invented the MT major basically the year I left), which Alex and I will be attending on Monday (tomorrow!). So that will be fun. Also, we went and hung out with some of the UCI peeps (Kelly and Kaitlin and Kat) on Thursday in their tiny apartment on the east side over a psychic's office, which was fun. They were supposed to come over for a late dinner on Friday, so Tom cooked salt-and-pepper steak with homemade mayonnaise sauce and delicate cheese garlic mashed potatoes and mushrooms and turnips and bacon a la the best way and green onions on top, and also chocolate zourgas (which is the exciting name Alex invented for the exciting flourless-brownie-cupcake things Tom adapted from a cake recipe, and which turned out to be one of the most delicious desserts I've ever eaten. None of us are ever buying chocolate souffle from a restaurant again, because restaurants never make souffle right and it always comes out kind of like these, except not at all as good) with chocolate butter sauce. Then they were too tired to come over, so Tom and Alex and I ate it all and it was incredibly delicious. But then they came over last night, and when Tom got home from class (where they learned to make all kinds of seafood), he made them the other steak, and they thought it was so great but it didn't have all the extras and so actually they missed out, but too bad!

But we all had a really great time last night. Kat brought over her webcam/mic, and we talked to Andy B. on Skype for like an hour, which was super fun, and we all just hung out and talked about everything! I love having a social life!

And Leigh is back from spring break this week, so I'm playing for her on Monday and Tuesday!

Also, at some point last week, I made the most delicious pesto cream sauce from the last tablespoon of butter, a leftover hunk of parmesan, a tablespoon of flour, a splash of milk, a tablespoon of Tom's pesto, and a generous amount of black pepper, and it was the best meal I'd eaten in a while!

And that is all for now! Good-bye!

*Of course, maybe one in eight of the songs they pick actually has really cool lyrics. My favorite song from last concert was "Days of Elijah," which was a blast to play, because it's relatively straightforward and is anthemic in a great way rather than an obnoxious way, and here are the lyrics:
These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the word of the lord
And these are the days of your servant, Moses,
Righteousness being restored.
And though these are the days of great trials
Of famine and darkness and sword,
Still we are the voice in the desert, crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
Behold he comes, riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun, at the trumpet call -
So lift your voice; it's the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion's hill salvation comes!

So, of course, still creepy and religious, but also full of poetic fervor and intelligent rhyming and a really comfortable, progressive lilt and rhythm. I suspect substantial portions of it were taken from Psalms** or something, which I could verify with a little Googling, except that I don't really care.

**Weirdly enough, I actually have a favorite psalm, or anyway piece of a psalm. It's from number 50, of David:

Oh, that I had wings like a dove,
For then I would fly away and be at rest.
Lo, then would I wander far off
And remain in the wilderness.

It was sometimes very comforting to me when I got super antsy in Irvine. Although I do try not to make a habit of deriving comfort from the Tanakh. This is not particularly difficult, given that it's a frequently very uncomfortable work of fiction.

***Actually, I would really love to take the train. And I would especially love to take a detour on the train, like up even farther north to the Great Lakes and Canada, and then back down. It would be the most beautiful thing. But it would also probably cost money, and as they are paying me only $800 for 4 weeks (which, given the hours I will be working, works out to about $3/hour, but they are also housing and feeding me and doing my laundry, and also, summer camps just don't ever pay well, it is part of the deal, unless you are Amy H. and have been working for eTc for nine years and they love you dearly, the end) and I will probably still be paying partial rent, because Jamie and I will both be gone and the boys can't afford to pay the whole thing themselves, I will probably want to be saving everything else. Unless I manage to land some more serious work between now and then! Which would be super great!


  1. that song, about being in the desert - do they think they are jewish?

  2. also, I don't understand the title, and can you send the flourless chocolate recipe please?

  3. the title is "career yo" except i was having fun with capitals. i will have to get the recipe from tom, but i will work on it!

  4. Me, too, for the recipe.