rehearsing #undercoverhero

Today's the day, Fifth House Friends, Followers, and Fans!  The opening performance of our 2011-2012 Signature Series.  Tonight, Monday 10/24/11 at 7:00pm in Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center, we premiere our newest adventure and undertaking in the world of narrative classical music performances with In Transit: #undercoverhero.  It combines some heart-breakingly beautiful music, a piece played without "traditional" instruments, a regional premiere, and a really, really great and inspiring story.  I hope you can make it (or watch it online at 7pm central time here).  What better way to begin today than with a blog post from Crystal, our oboe player and Director of Educational Programming.  In the post below, Crystal reflects on something that makes Fifth House Ensemble unique -- the order in which we play our music.  Continue reading for some insight from Crystal on what's to come tonight!   I took the picture below at our final run through of In Transit: #undercoverhero last week.  It includes all of the ensemble members in the show, and I think it captures them pretty well!  

One of the most unique aspects of our shows is that rather than playing the pieces all in order, we mix up the movements and play them continuously without any real break.  This is probably not news to most of you reading this.  I think it's one thing that not only sets us apart but also makes our concerts interesting and engaging in an unexpected way.  The net result of this on us as performers is that we often find ourselves having to make great mental leaps as well as possess the normal physical endurance to play a demanding concert.

Case in point: I have to play the first movement of the Villa Lobos reed trio and then the first movement of the Mozart quintet for piano and winds, and then the second movement of the Villa Lobos.  Whew!  It's exhausting just to think about!  Our illustrious clarinetist Jenny has to do yet another mental gymnastic move when she switches to John Elmquist's new piece Junk Shot.  At first, this can be really disorienting as a player.  Particularly for music like Mozart, there's a lot of tradition that informs its performance...and it's Mozart.  Enough said.  You can work your whole life to master his music and STILL fail.  It's just plain beautiful in the most effortless way, and to be effortlessly beautiful requires the highest level of precision.  You have to have a certain comportment, a certain poise and elegance, to really pull it off.  And on the other side of the spectrum is the reed trio by Heitor Villa Lobos.  For that, I have to access a raw, visceral part of myself and just PLAY, pulling out all the stops technically and musically.  I have to channel my inner Amazon as I play music that was partly inspired by the traditional music of Villa Lobo's native Brazil.  And I have approximately 60 seconds to transition between these two states of being.

At first it was a daunting task.  But as we have put the pieces together, I am truly seeing how the music is more alike than I ever thought, and the playlist is starting to have a natural flow.  I am hearing the narrative between the music, and in doing so, I am hearing the music itself in a completely new way.  This, my friends, is what art is all about.