Me with Jenny Oaks Baker outside the Barrus Concert Hall in Rexburg. She had just performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto at BYU-I. (Spring 2009)
Jenny with us, the Teton Chamber Orchestra; Eric Wenstrom, quite possibly the planet's coolest conductor.
We had two dress rehearsals with Jenny: each about 3 hours long...lesson learned: Use half a bow and only play on 2 bow hairs if she is playing. She got after us several times about playing too loud. She said, "Guys, when I played with the NSO, I never played using more than 3/4 of a bow. Ever." If you've ever studied with Dr. Kevin Call at BYU-I, you never make that mistake. Soloists earn their title. Lesson learned: less is more.
It has been a wild ride this past week. Joseph got the H1N1 virus, affectionately referred to as the 'swine flu.' He was very ill for 5 days. It had me worried. Lesson learned: Never regret purchasing hand sanitizer by the gallon. And no smooching when the Mister complains of aches and pains...
Today was the ward primary program. Annually, in the fall sometime, the Primary children all over the world present a program in sacrament meeting. They sing all the songs they have learned the past year, and each child usually has a speaking part as well. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest meetings of the year. Unless you're the parents of a 4-year old tornado who had his hands down the front of his pants for half the program. On the front row. Of choir risers. Because he's a sunbeam. ~clear throat~ Ahem. It was wonderful, though. I cried through the last half of it. (And not because Caleb was playing with his unit.) Children singing songs with zeal about who they are and their knowledge of God's Plan for families. We had some non member families in the congregation as well. I hope they felt the Spirit. Lesson learned: The lifeblood of this Church rests with those little ones we love with every ounce of our hearts...and also: no elastic waist band pants for boys.
I just finished a performance with the Teton Chamber Orchestra and Jenny Oaks Baker last night. It was a great performance. She was talkative in between numbers and it was fun to hear her describe her love of the music. (And what her kids are going to be for Halloween.)
I wanted to describe the 2 grueling dress rehearsals with her...and the lessons I learned. I loved that she was direct and graciously demanding, and down-to-earth. (Not to mention passionate and gifted.)
The first night we were rehearsing an arrangement of "Come, Come Ye Saints" when the chorus finished singing, "...and should we die before our journey's through..."
She immediately cut the choir off and said, "Choir! You have just buried your baby in the ground. Now you are trying to find hope and joy by moving forward. Even though life is hard, we can and must still find joy! Please sing with that in your mind!"
Lesson learned: Everybody has heartache, but be of good cheer.
Then we were rehearsing Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Pie Jesu." Again, she cut off the choir and emphatically asked, "Choir, do you know what the text to this means??? Then please, please sing like you really believe He is what He says He is!" ("Sweet Jesus, who takes away the sins of the world, Lamb of God, grant them everlasting rest.")
Lesson learned: Even though a musician may be performing every note perfectly in rhythm and in tune, unless the musician is passionate about the text or subject matter, it is only 2-dimensional. Give it your all. Convey the real meaning of the music.
Finally, one of the greatest things I admire about Jenny Oaks Baker is her priorities. (Read the quote on the last post by her father, Elder Dallin H. Oaks.) She left a prestigious post with the National Symphony Orchestra to have a family. Lesson learned: there is a time and a season for everything. She is probably sitting on the front row in her sacrament meeting cheering on her little ones in their primary program.
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