December 6th, 2009

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Cooking on a Gray Day

Because I'm going to be both busy and very tired the next few days, and also had Sunday off from church, today has been a cooking day.

Bread is now in the oven, beginning to make that "brown bread baking" smell.

On top of the stove is a Concoction--at the moment more of a soup--with a base of homemade beef stock (2 quarts of it). To which I added, a chopped onion, sauteed, garlic ditto, 2 cups of cubed ham left from a holiday ham (the bone's in the freezer, whence it will emerge to become the base of a bean soup), a much larger amount of cooked cubed lamb that I froze before Thanksgiving, a large carrot, chopped, most of a bunch of celery (minus the leafy end that was chopped up for T-day stuffing), some chopped parsley, a large can of plain diced tomatoes and small can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilis, about half a jar of roasted red and yellow peppers, sliced up smallish, a jar of sliced mushrooms, bay leaf, and peppercorns. (The stock

This is a new combination for me, but the taste I had was what I'd hoped for. In the original plan, it was also going to have potatoes and green beans, and maybe be thickened to a more stew-ish consistency, but it's already 2/3 of the way up the pot and also it tastes great the way it is. Eaten with the homemade bread, it doesn't really need another starch.

As soon as the bread comes out, I'm going down for a nap, before heading down to the city for the orchestra rehearsal for Messiah this evening. I'm tired from yesterday still, despite what should've been enough sleep last night. Except for the bread pans after the bread comes out, the rest of the cleanup is done.
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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Rehearsal: the Orchestra Meets the Choir

We were all there on time--I was there early, because it was foggy and I didn't know how long it would take--so I helped Jen lay out sheets of paper on chairs--I did the "program" sheets and she did the name placement sheets, color-coded by section. Between yesterday and today (Sat. and Sun. this is) I got moved from the left side of the alto section, row three, to the right side (next to tenors) in row four, the top row. I rather enjoyed the seatmates I had yesterday, but my new (and permanent for this performance) seat is right where I was last year, with a direct sight-line to David, our director...right in the middle. I have the same tenor beside me as last year, too. Since I haven't been next to tenors in any of the rehearsals, it did take a bit of adjustment (for one thing, I can't hear the other altos except the one on my right--not my best intake ear--so I can't tell how loud I'm singing in comparison.)

Rehearsal started on the stroke of 7:30; this is the Austin Symphony, or a subsection of it (since Messiah doesn't require the whole modern-size orchestra) and as always I was impressed with the way that David improves any ensemble--voices or instruments--through a rehearsal. I'm now better at hearing the furry or fuzzy places and anticipating what he's going to say and do to get them cleaned up. The choir this year is smaller than last year's, but "cleaner" for the most part, although we're lacking a couple of splendid basses. David says we actually make more sound, and more correct articulation, because we're singing better.

It is, however, exhausting...and I'm definitely having some problems with breath and stamina. Not that I want to quit anytime soon. Tomorrow's the dress rehearsal and Tuesday's the performance--both longer than we were singing tonight. But when I think back to the first time I sang Messiah, in 1978 in South Texas...the first time I'd auditioned for a choir...this is both easier and harder. I know more about the music, more about singing, more about what it's possible to do with the music if you do more than sing the right notes at the right time. Back then, I had endless breath and the long "tiddly bits", once I learned the notes, were no problem. I could sing measures of them. Now...not. OTOH, I can now sing them more cleanly (but dropping out to take breaths here and there) and I can put accents on them where David wants. And trills (well, not on the tiddly bits, of course, but where there's a little dwell time.) Some people say they get bored with Messiah...I don't see how anyone could, with a good director. It's never the same twice (David won't let it be--he changes his marks. In fact, he came up with something yesterday, from what he heard another choir do the day before....not having us do quite the same thing, but sort of.)

Very tired tonight. Wishing various things didn't hurt. But looking forward to more music. Singing with an orchestra--YES. Singing in a choir that can make final consonants snap like whips--YES. Singing with a director who insists on us doing that right and yet makes it fun--YES.