Youth Orchestra of the Middle East – 2011.

It’s hard to believe that this was my third year playing with the Youth Orchestra of the Middle East. It gets better every year. It’s always wonderful to see old friends (some of whom have been there all 3 years, others 2) and meet the new people that come. It was good fun and good work, but very busy and tiring.
We had an Indian girl from Oman staying the week with us. We met at registration, then YOME kicked off with a rhythm lesson from Mr. Malanga, where we dissected rhythm into time (space between beats), beat (weight), subdivision, and sound – also including discussions on flow and movement, and how rhythm never stops moving. He put on this piece so we could feel the beats and the “hiccups” as he later called them. “Ba-da-um-da-da” was a common phrase throughout the week. Then we had full orchestra (huzzah for sight-reading?), a pizza dinner (in which we watched a very funny chess game, which included Mr. Malanga saying “Never listen to the oboe,” followed a few minutes later with “always listen to the oboe.” :D). We had another session of full orchestra, then Mr. C picked me, Rachel, Alison, and the girls we were hosting up and we went out to the desert.
Saturday was the first full day. In sectionals we had a bunch about tuning and more rhythm. In full orchestra we joked about the “Courtly Bavarian Yeomen,” when someone mixed up the names of some of the songs. Then in our last session something went wacky with a confusing English horn/Oboe part and I got frustrated then I got frustrated that I was frustrated at something so silly… but then at home we had family worship and dinner, then played boggle before bed.
Sunday wasn’t too exciting until our second break, when I played Marwa’s cello. Much joking about us all switching instruments ensued after Mr. Currie realized that I was not actually a cellist. ;D Before we started rehearsal Keenan and I were playing some Pirates of the Caribbean, me doing some basic rhythm on one note on cello and him playing the melody. We brought music the rest of the week to try to get a string quartet together to play it but it never happened. In the evening we ran some errands at the mall and introduced Sasha to Krispy Kreme… then drove home in pouring rain, lighting, and thunder. It continued to rain and storm as our conversations meandered, and eventually we were discussing aspects of what we believed, including how you’re saved and why you need saving.

Monday we started playing Frisbee over lunch break, which continued for the next 3 days. Rachel and I also put into practice our theory that a little exercise would make us a little more alert so we ran up and down the stairs during afternoon break, then sat and listened to Mr. Malanga play piano… and sang parts of “If I Were a Rich Man,” and had a wonderful time.

In full orchestra we worked on the commission, which YOME paid a composer to write, and he was there. Like last year, it combined Western and Arab music. It was called Dance at Sunrise, and started off quietly, but ended quite jubilantly (I was searching for that word all week).
At home was family worship, followed by watching the end of the 10th Anniversary Les Miserables concert. Once more Sasha and I were up late talking about what we believed.

During our first break on Tuesday I played the double bass. 😀 Over lunch was an impromptu small group dancing and rhythm lesson with Mr. Malanga. We had large sectionals (bang-y and blow-y things)…

{Tori and her oboe. In sectionals they were working on Pavane, which Victoria and I decided means “No oboes” because we barely played in either of them. Which meant a very restful sectional.}
then I finally got into the groove of the commission in full orchestra and started to play it decently.
Sasha and I watched the movie of Les Miserables that night, then went to bed rather promptly.

Wednesday we didn’t have to go in until 1:30, so Sasha and I made enchiladas for a hot lunch and then cupcakes for her birthday the following day. On the bus to Abu Dhabi we played MadLibs and I talked to Rachel. We got settled in the Emirates Palace dressing rooms, then had rehearsal for a while. We mostly ‘top and tailed’ things and adjusted our playing to match the acoustics. Before the concert the strings were playing Pachelbel’s canon quite beautifully, but then it got too loud and I escaped to a far corner and was joined by others seeking quiet. In intermission I talked more with Ranya, French horn player and new sweet friend. 🙂 We rode back to Dubai with the C’s, and I talked lots with Angela, such wonderful fellowship, but we still got back rather late/early.

Thursday we had Irish dance in the morning, then a flurry of driving before getting to full sectional rehearsals. During the first break we celebrated Sasha’s birthday with mini cupcakes. All the girls thought they were adorable, but I could imagine the guys thinking “they’re so small…”

After orchestra I spoke with the composer for a bit. Then mom was sick so the Cs took us home and we had a quiet evening.

Friday morning after rehearsal we had a ‘composers forum’ with Mr. Burke. I had to leave early but talked to him after the concert that night a bit more. It was encouraging and helpful both. Sasha’s family came over for lunch to celebrate her birthday.

Us kids played mind games and with Duffy, while the parents discussed various things downstairs, lots of which I hear was very thought-provoking, like ethics and medicine, worldviews, etc.
We went to volleyball and then the concert. At the concert I was in the ww/brass/percussion room for a while but then wanted to get pictures of/with some of the strings players and it was getting to loud in our room so I got permission to leave for a while.

This picture makes me happy. 🙂 Just like the one of Mr. Malanga playing the piano. I think because it’s Braxton (great violinist, fellow homeschooler and believer) and Charles (concert master, fellow composer), and Nathan (another double bass lover and believer). All of whom make it past YOME acquaintances and into YOME friends. 🙂 … though some of them tease me a lot about being short (I don’t mind being short. I just don’t like having small hands)… and they decided I should play a string instrument because I was always hanging out with the strings. 😀

And these sweet ladies I love so much. 🙂

And dearest Marwa, Ranya, and Tori. ❤ These make me even happier than the picture of the guys.

I was still in the strings room when Mr. Currie came in to give his pre-second-concert talk.
The concert itself went fairly well. Mistakes were made, but they weren’t the same ones as before. Then were farewells and we drove home.

I don’t like chaotic noise (which is why I mostly hang out with strings and in the strings room) but the sound of these drums brought me in from the quiet outdoors during intermission…

It was fun, but I enjoyed Saturday, which was a quiet day at home catching up on laundry and ironing, reading, communications… I spent the time during my run praying for His use of YOME, and for Him to work in all of us – that He’d continue to use us Christians, and that He’d reveal Himself to those we talked to about Him and came into contact with.

Random thoughts:
Both nights people clapped after the first Bavarian dance. Both nights. The first night it was annoying, the second night I thought it was funny. But still – they knew not to clap between the other movements in other pieces, then suddenly they did…
Looking back I don’t think I so much learned new things, but I did grow a lot – tuning, rhythm, expression, trust, leading/following, striving to love the very worldly – and look on them not with distaste and judgment, but compassion. I grew in learning to ‘dig’ in conversation, learning what questions to ask and when, and being bold enough to talk to someone new.
I was encouraged in my oboe playing and composition work.
I struggled the whole time with repetitive strain injury, which I hadn’t had badly for years now. I had my hands taped for a few of the days, and iced it over the last few when I didn’t want to be wearing the tape.
We laughed more this year than we did other years, which was good, and helped the orchestra ‘gel’ sooner and in time for the first concert. All our laughter took a lot of the ‘stifled, professional’ atmosphere I’d felt so keenly away. Before I felt like if I said something funny I’d get in trouble, and that the teachers were unapproachable except during rehearsals… but that’s gotten a lot better and the conductor and I have had some really good musical things to discuss about the pieces and it was really great. More of community than professionalism. I always wish we had more time because by the time you really get comfortable with everyone it’s time to go. I’m very thankful for the conversations we were able to have, but I wish we could’ve had more, especially at YOME. But I haven’t talked to any others about that yet.

The concerts both went VERY well, the first especially. Pieces we played…
– 4 Pieces from Yeomen of the Guard – Sullivan
– Suite – ‘Le Roi S’amuse’ – Delibes – this one was fun. Relatively easy, but with lots of ‘geography’ – codas, repeats, etc. Here’s a video with 3 of the movements.
– Dance at Sunrise – Burke (this was the commission. My favorite piece).
— Interval —
– L’Arlesienne Suite No. 1 – Bizet (the Overture (I love the strings at about 1 minute) and Menuetto were my favorites. Carillon was nice but it got on my nerves a bit).
– Five Courtly Dances  – Britten (this one has the MOST AMAZING pavane in it, and the rest were nice This has them all but without strings 😦 ).
– Bavarian Dances – Elgar (my favorite suite we played. The most difficult piece, but very fun. Here’s the first movement, and the second, though we didn’t have a choir and were an orchestra, not piano. And a happy thought: I’ve been told I compose like Elgar did. 🙂 ).
ENCORE:  James Bond Medley – arr. Chase. I can’t seem to find a recording of it, which makes me sad. But OH! The trumpet solo and trombone solo and double bass solo gave me chills every time we played it.

I went into YOME 2011 thinking it would be my last year… but now I’m thinking definitely NOT.  I really hope I’ll be able to do it again next year. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since our Emirates Palace concert. It’s been just about 5 days since we last played anything together… and I’m already having major orchestra ‘homesickness.’ I need to find an orchestra to play with when it’s not the 4 weeks of the year that are YOME and Csehy. And in the past, I’ve missed YOME only about the time it’s time for YOME again. Now I miss it so badly right now.

“We need a really good piano at B.”
“There’s one over there.”

“And there will be pack lunches for… dinner.”

“She’s wearing a dress that looks like a skirt… and your skirt looks like a dress.”

“We may wear skirts, but we have a better national dance.”

“All the blind pianists… do you think they learned rhythm from watching each other?”

“Do you guys really know how to play chess?”

“Everyone play an instrument you don’t really play!”

“You need to discuss a pivotal moment.”
“We do? Oh yes! We do!”

“Life doesn’t have to be downs & ups. It can be up – down. Down – Down. Or up – up”

“We’ll run this piece and then go and have a cup of tea. Or not a cup of tea. A cup of something.”


2 thoughts on “Youth Orchestra of the Middle East – 2011.

  1. Laura Elizabeth says:

    You get some hilarious pictures 😀 My dad sometimes sings part of ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ in a funny, deep Russian accent. I liked those quotes at the end, especially the one about the blind pianists, and the last one about the cup of tea 🙂


    • kyleian says:

      Mr. Malanga was demonstrating that you have to ‘feel’ the music to really get the rhythm… what he said about blind pianists is so true, but the way he said it made us all laugh about it for the rest of the week. 🙂
      And the cup of tea… the conductor was always saying “and then we’ll go have a cup of tea,” when we were about to end rehearsal for a break. There were always snacks, but no tea, so eventually he started saying “A cup of something.” 😀
      We laughed so much more this year than we did in past years; it was good, and took a lot of the ‘stifled, professional’ atmosphere I’d felt so keenly away. Before I felt like if I said something funny I’d get in trouble, and that the teachers were unapproachable except during rehearsals… but that’s gotten a lot better and the conductor and I have had some really good musical things to discuss about the pieces and it was really great. More of community than professionalism.


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