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Every Day I’m Shuffling

Shing Ann Yeh

My music.  We have so many pieces, fourteen to be exact.

Rehearsal break in Ingram; our concertmaster and Dean discussing some music.

Guiding our orchestra are two conductors: Professor Robin Fountain and an alumnus named Dean Whiteside, who is to take over if Professor Fountain so happens to consume some bad jellyfish or something.  Each of our two-and-a-half hour rehearsals have been quite productive, making sure that the ensemble is together and that the performance is exciting as can be.  One of my favorite pieces to play is “Glitter and be Gay” from Candide, as we accompany Katie Heaton, another alumnus, does a wonderful job singing as an over-the-top diva.

Another piece on our program is Dvorak’s “Scherzo” from his Ninth Symphony, and at the end of the piece, there’s a notoriously difficult viola soli passage.  To ease the tension, Dean was reminded of a joke that he heard, “What’s the difference between the first and last stands of the violas?”  We all leaned forward a bit.  ”About half a bar!”  Guffawing ensued, all in good nature, as violists are used to being the brunt of jokes.

Professor Fountain talking to the group; Joe DeBusk, aka the-guy-who-knows-all-the-answers on the bottom left; and Elias Haddad, official tour doctor.

My personal take on the program?  Almost all of the pieces are encores, which are short, flashy, feel-good songs.  Also they programmed all of the waltzes in the second half.  Though I enjoy all of these things, I wish that there was something deep and emotive, but we are only going to keep this program for another week, so it’ll be fine.

Off to our send-off concert!

On Saturday, they gathered us for a team huddle, otherwise known as a pre-tour lecture, on tips and tricks for China.  You probably already know that the water isn’t of the greatest quality there, but thinking past that a bit, salads probably are not the healthiest, in terms of being germ-free, option of foods.   BYOTP: Bring your own toilet paper.  Cars sometimes drive on the sidewalks.  When bargaining, aim for a tenth of the price.  They also included a handy list of Chinese words to know, such as numbers and common sayings.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  We are leaving tonight.  How incredibly exciting.  That being said, I really need to do my laundry, practice and record some cello stuff, pack, print some Christmas carols to sing on the plane, eat sometime, and find really cheesy Christmas jokes.

And before signing off for now, I’d like to amend my previous statement.  We are actually playing fifteen pieces because the Party leaders in one of the Chinese cities asked us to perform a Red anthem for them.  Interesting much?

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