Monday, December 8, 2008

On The Road With Sam Spade, Part 1

No, not that Sam Spade; the private investigator business is still as lucrative as ever we're told. Nope, we're talking about Sam Spade the baritone, two-time Ensemble Member and your guest blogger for this series of posts.

See, we here at Aria Serious asked Sam what it was like to be on the road with our Ensemble and what Sam gave us was a tour diary of the Ensemble's road trip to San Pedro last month.

Sam was so thorough we decided to break this up over the next few weeks.

Before we begin however it might be worth going here to meet our Ensemble as Sam refers to them all by first name. After reading his report you'll know them all so well you'll be referring to them by first name too.

On the road with Sam Spade, part 1 follows:

Thursday, November 6th

I don’t remember the San Pedro trip coming this soon in the season last year, but that isn’t the only thing that made this trip unique. Our van depart was set at 1PM today, so I was able to sleep in a bit and still get to the gym by 9AM for my two-hour workout. (I will run around the Bonita golf course, which takes about 45 minutes, when I don’t have ample time to make it to and from the gym.)

So, the day before the San Pedro trip was to commence, Chad was driving Rachel and me home when something happened with the steering of the van that caused it to lock up. This happened three or four times on the way home. We immediately called Brian [Ensemble Tour Manager Brian Pederson] to let him know. To make a long story short, the van wasn’t being taken to San Pedro. That wasn’t the only thing that made this trip unique, though. Instead of renting another van, SDO rented a Ford Focus. So, Chad drove that up with Will, Crystal and Tina while Rachel and I rode with Nic [That's Dr. Nic, our Geisel Director of Education and Outreach]. Elyse drove herself because her Mom and boyfriend, Ben, were flying in to see the orchestra concert.

Chad dropped Rachel and me off at the office and we got on the road with Nic around 1PM. The ride was really nice. We caught Nic up on the happenings of LC, Heidi and Spencer on MTV’s “The Hills” (a guilty pleasure) while snacking on low-fat Ruffles and some of Rachel’s homemade fudge. There was also plenty of making fun of each other and remarks about the roadside plant life. Nic is truly a wealth of knowledge on all fronts.

It turned out that we were the first to arrive in San Pedro, besides Brian (he left at noon). So, we checked in at the hotel and walked up to the theater, which was only about a five minute trek from the hotel. When we got to the Warner Grand, everyone else had in arrived. Perfect timing! We loaded in the Rumpelstiltskin set, but didn’t set it up because the orchestra rehearsal later that evening.

We had some down time before our orchestra rehearsal that night at 7PM, so we went back to the hotel and chilled a bit before hitting a local brewery for dinner. With the mixup of the bill at dinner, we barely made it to rehearsal on time, but alas…WHEW!

I gotta say…rehearsing with the orchestra was GREAT! In this job, we’re almost exclusively singing with piano, which is fine. Singing with an orchestra, though, is a different beast. Not only is it more sound, it’s a different sound. Actually, it’s thirty different sounds combined to form a cohesive unit of sound. Instead of being able to lead on pianist through the nuances of a piece, we were following a conductor, but also leading. It can be a tricky collaboration. That being said, though, it was SO MUCH FUN! It was also a challenge to blend with the orchestra in an 800 seat hall, but it wasn’t that difficult. We all sang through our arias and ensembles to get the tempi and transitions in our pieces set. While others sang, I was able to check the hall for acoustics. What a great hall! I didn’t think it had a single bad seat in the house. The sound was actually better in the balcony than in the front, in my opinion. Being in the back gave the voice and orchestra more time and space to blend into one sound.

After rehearsal ended at 10PM, the orchestra cleared out and we put the set up for tomorrow’s shows of Rumpel. It was a long day, but what a good one of camaraderie and music-making!!

Part 2 comes later this week, after we track down some of this homemade fudge Sam's talking about...

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