Lip service

One month:  Corelli to Handel to Brahms and Faure to Jensen to Patootie to sereda to Kurt Cobain via Drew Wright.  In between some work re-arranging songs by JTaylor, Norah Jones, Kris Delmhorst and other specials for cello and voice.  Or just cello, or just voice.  And thumb piano (note to self:  revive and nourish friendships with sweet tasteful drummers).

Our Band, Catchpenny, somewhere in Toronto, sometime in the 1980s.  Aruna Handa, Frank Klaassen, Michael Klaassen & me
Our Band, Catchpenny, somewhere in Toronto, sometime in the 1980s. Aruna Handa, Frank Klaassen, Michael Klaassen & me

This sounds urgent, but it’s not.  It’s more like breathing.  Or working out, with the intention of finding muscles that haven’t been used for a very long time, and… using them again, even if it takes a rebuild.  And yes, yes, all that about pain and gain, too.

wild carrot
wild carrot

I believe it’s important to Do the thing that you feel compelled to do.  There’s a reason you feel so compelled, after all – you can probably trust it.

If there are obstacles to your Doing of the thing, don’t waste time blaming them, just remove, or find a way around.  Complaint and self-defeat have never once written a song or painted a picture:  dump them.  You’ve got better things to do with your time.

St Lawrence River.

Jump in.  Do the work.  It’s warm.

Oh, and if you see someone else who’s doing the work, love them for it.

Every Year, December 1

Every year has different elements & configurations, but as of December first each year I look at my calendar in wonder and love my job all over again.  Who gets to do this?  Musicians.



December 8, 12, 13, 14; Dec 16, 18, Dec 21, Dec 22  (I believe that’s 8 for 19 days?  2 years ago it was 5 for 8 days which was pushing the limits a little…)

Corelli, Popper, Bach, Handel, Mozart, misc Christmas arrangements; Jensen, sereda, Swannel/Young, Ostertag, Cobain, Sting, Eberhardt.  Youth Orchestra, Symphony, Youth Orchestra String Quartet (+ a few more to do Brandenburg 3), Georgian Bay Orchestra (Messiah), Amati at Leith Church the next day.

Rehearsals for all of them, in-between (where the belly-laughs happen).

This is what Christmas is, to me.  It has nothing to do with Malls or stores or wrapping paper – just incredible people, music, laughter and good, honest, hard work.

More to come; think I’ll go practise.


I LOVE our Youth Orchestra.

I’m a big fan of binders if you’ve got a long program – the tabs are new technology by me, for which I caught a good ribbing. They worked though…

I’ve seen it time and again, but it never fails to restore my faith in humanity:  if you gather smart, hardworking teens together under a conductor every week with their chosen instruments and good music to play, magical things happen.  Add 40 degree heat inside the church, a six-week hiatus from playing and a good audience and impossible magical things happen.

I love these young people and what they can do – sometimes they know exactly what they’re capable of, more often they surprise themselves.  I’m feel honoured to bruise my fingers with them (this leads to better calluses and stronger playing).  Yesterday we began practise at 4pm, and played straight through until 10pm, with only two 20 minute breaks.  That requires a special kind of stamina, especially when playing material that even pro orchestras and soloists find challenging. My fingers are killing me this morning.

If you haven’t heard of this group, I’m happy to introduce you.  Keep an eye out for us near Christmas, and again in May of 2013.  It’s always worth it to come.

Here’s a link to the website, which only needs a little bit of updating –

What we played last night:

Symphony #1 in C major, III – Menuetto                    L. van Beethoven

Violin Concerto #1 in G minor, I – Allegro                    Max Bruch
Samantha Orr – violin

Horn Concerto #1 in E flat major, I – Allegro                Richard Strauss
Paige Mitchell – french horn

Un Moto di Gioia (from ‘The Marriage of Figaro)           W.A. Mozart
Kathleen Chayer – soprano

Piano Concerto #2 in C minor, III – Allegro                   S. Rachmaninoff
Christine Camidge – piano


Hockey Night in Canada                                               R. Mascall

He Shall Feed His Flock (from Messiah)                         G.F. Handel

The Death of Ase (from Peer Gynt)                               E. Grieg

Pavane                                                                       G. Faure

Dreadlocks ‘n’ Dreidel                                                  R. Mascall
Rob Tite – clarinet

Symphony #9 in D minor, II – Allegro Molto                   L. van Beethoven

the trickiest bit of the Beethoven for me – I had a mental block on this passage, which appears twice. The notes aren’t difficult – just my mental block….

Encore – Ojibway Songs, IV – Allegro Vivo                      R. Mascall