Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Show, or Symphony

Show or Symphony.

Recently, I came up against every working musicians dilemma; which gig to take. Frequently, it is an easy financial decision. Which gig will make me the most money; either for the run, or on a ‘per service’ basis. As I get older, I discover I have 3 criteria for taking on a musical project.

1 – Do I really want to do this? I haven’t played Prokofiev’s SIXTH symphony in almost 30 years, I’d LOVE to do this again before I hang up the spikes. Other tunes I’d really like to play: Stravinsky’s “Jeu de Cartes,” Revueltas’ “Sensemaya,” I’d love to be in the brass section for ANY of the Ring Cycle, tuba, bass bone, bass trumpet, ANYTHING! Later this month, I’m playing “Carnival d’Aix” by Milhaud. I’ve never even heard of this piece, much less played it. It’s way up at Mills College and the commute is going to be a bear, but I can’t WAIT!

2 – Am I helping out a friend? Often I do stuff simply because a friend asked me to do it. DO I need to play “Trumpet Voluntary” at a wedding again? Not really, but playing in a quintet WITH or FOR friends, just seems like a good, fun thing to do. Honestly, I’ll never get tired of playing “Die Bankelsangerlieder.”

3 – IS the pay good? Yes, every so often I get called to do something I REALLY don’t care to do. Then it’s all about the money. I have discovered the less they pay you, the more poorly you are treated. If this is the case, there is a dollar figure I have in mind. If the job offer is less than that, I’d rather stay home and watch Law & Order reruns.

There is another criteria that I use, that really doesn’t fit under either of these three and it is, “Who’s on the gig.” If it is a bunch of people I haven’t seen in awhile, or people whose company I always enjoy, I’ll take it.

This month, I had to choose between playing “Chicago” and playing with the Symphony Silicon Valley. The symphony was playing a brand new piece by David Amram (and you know how I LOVE new music) and “Roman Festival” by Respighi, which I have NEVER played. I had to choose. The pay was about the same, I’ve played “Chicago” and both were in San Jose. I played the show. It was fun, I got to hang with my stagehand friends, the parking was better and I got to see some terrific costumes! I met a new friend, Lee, the percussionist and Billy’s wife put out a beautiful spread for the band between shows on Sunday.

I wish it ran another week!


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