melty in Montreal

We’re back from Boston, and Montreal is way too hot!

BEMF went very well – all three concerts we were involved in (La Fiorenza, Les Bostonades, and then a joint concert with both groups) were well-attended and well-received. La Fiorenza managed to sell several CDs as well. (more on those in a minute!)

It was really exhausting though, starting from the week before. Sari and I had just gotten back from Fredericton, and then were plunged into rehearsals. Somewhere during the half-week or so that we were in Montreal before heading to Boston, someone came up with the idea of making CDs to bring – the group has several concerts recorded, and we figured we could at least assemble a short demo with a few tracks. So, in three days, I did a pile of editing, Sara went crazy designing a CD jacket and getting it printed, and Esteban made labels. It actually all came together, and ended up looking and sounding very good! It’d be nice to have real pressed CDs instead of burned CDRs, of course, but that’s unfeasible except in large batches (1000 is a common minimum).

Sunday came around then, and we commenced the complicated ballet of signing for the rental car, picking up everyone, and squishing all their stuff in. This was made much more complicated since everyone was scattered all over the city, Sari and Ellie had a recording session all afternoon, and I was at church all morning. Also, we didn’t reserve early enough to get a minivan, so we had a monster Ford Explorer SUV instead. That ended up working just fine, actually, though it was a little tricky to get the theorbo, lute, guitar, harp, violin, suitcases and camping beds in, along with 5 people! We finally made it to Akiko’s house in Boston at 2AM, and collapsed for a few hours’ sleep.

The next two days we rehearsed with everyone (almost – Ellie didn’t arrive until Tuesday night), and then Wednesday was concert day! Toshi picked up the cargo van first, and then we packed up Akiko’s [huge and very very heavy] harpsichord and loaded it up. Next stop was in Cambridge to meet Peter Sykes and pick up the organ we were using – it was being used in the opera the night before, so he had to transpose it from A=392Hz to A=415Hz and retune it for us. It also weighed a ton, but we got it in. Then unloaded everything at the church where we were performing.

La Fiorenza was first up, at 11AM, and their concert went very well. Afterwards, though, there was only half an hour to tune the harpsichord before the Bostonades concert. This was made worse by all the people there, and especially by the crazy temperature – it was a damp and cool day outside, and stiflingly hot in the church hall that we were performing in. So I dove in and started tuning, and managed to break a string – not the end of the world, but not good either. I quickly put on a new one, only to find that I had somehow managed to put it on backwards!!! No clue how I did this – I think I’ve only done it once before, and it was at least 7 years ago. In any case, I unwound it, restrung it properly, and… it broke again. Now, at this point, it might have just been overstressed from being wound twice in opposite directions, but it was really frustrating, and we were getting really close to concert time. So the next string was put on, and a frantic tuning ensued.

At this point, my nerves were so shot that I couldn’t actually get the new string up to pitch right away – it’s so terrifying, after breaking two strings, to think how close you’re getting to breaking the next one as well… eventually I got it done though, and the harpsichord was tuned, and the concert started just a few minutes late. Because of the temperature though, it didn’t last long at all, and of course, the new string was still stretching out, so by the end of the concert, it sounded like I hadn’t done anything at all!

Then it was time to turn to the organ for the next concert – as I mentioned, Peter had already tuned it after transposing it to the pitch we were using, but after sitting in the hot room all morning, it was pretty raunchy again. So now I can say that I have tuned an organ as well! There’s a first time for everything. Another speedy assault on the harpsichord, and we were ready for the concert just in time, but without time for any sort of sound check or anything. It was a little bit nerve-wracking, since not only had we never played in that space before, but we hadn’t had a chance to rehearse with Ellie, since she just arrived late the night before (though she had no trouble at all), and we hadn’t been able to use the organ for any rehearsals! But everything seemed to go very well – it’s a really good bunch of musicians.

After the concert, the instruments had to get loaded into the van and dropped off at their respective destinations – the organ was headed back to the theatre for another opera performance that night (I hope Peter didn’t have to suffer too much with the tuning, after all the wild temperature shifts during the day!) and the harpsichord back to Akiko’s. Sushi, beer and wine ensued, and an early night – it’s funny how it feels like the same time after a concert, whether it finishes at 6 or at 11…

After that, back to Montreal with most of us, though with a cello instead of harp and lute, since Jivko came back with us, and Esteban had to use his other instruments in a concert with La Rota on Friday.

So now we’re back in Montreal, with very little coming up. I’m playing piano in church tomorrow, which is a novelty, and then next weekend is the Montreal Baroque Festival, though neither Sari nor I are too heavily involved with that. Then I have a saxophone recital at the end of July, and we’re headed back to Fredericton in August, but most of July we can relax, plan a wedding, learn music, and actually do some of the work we’ve been neglecting over the past weeks. Looking forward to it!

2 Comments to “melty in Montreal”

  1. Sausage says:

    Hey Clam,
    Why are the “Comments Off”? Does that mean they’re closed?

  2. Jon-o says:

    Yup! Comments stay open for a month or two, but then it closes. The only comments coming in after that time are spam, so it made sense to turn it off.