Orchestra, Tech, & Audition Opportunities Seized

closeThis post was published 11 years 11 months 5 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

As mentioned in Guys and Dolls Retrospective, my involvement in the pit orchestra at Temple of Aaron led to an offer from the Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company. Well, last Sunday I attended my first GSVLOC orchestra rehearsal; there’s another tomorrow. It followed a week of back-and-forth emails with my contact (from Arizona, where I went to celebrate my grandmother’s 86th birthday). I also worked out dates for another potential gig in technical theatre at the Minneapolis JCC for their Jewish Humor Festival—about which I just happened to receive an email the day after the offer from GSVLOC.

After Sunday’s GSVLOC rehearsal, I took home a practice score. Imagine my surprise when I opened it to find handwritten sheet music that was every bit as sloppy as what I had to deal with during Guys and Dolls. Here I thought that that was unique to my last show. How naïve. 😛

Fortunately, the work of transcribing the handwritten manuscript-style scores to engraved sheet music was already long done at GSVLOC. In fact, the rehearsal copy I read off of on Sunday said it was last revised in 1999 (interesting, since this is the first GSVLOC performance of this show, The Sorcerer).

So, w00t, WIN, etc. etc. I don’t have to put in hours and hours to get music I can read. My contact even emailed me a PDF copy of the engraved score in case I want to print my own copy for practice. (She’s the organizer; the conductor is an immediately likable Brit—a man—named Courtney.)

I was honestly expecting the music to be way, way over my head, but the fun of having high expectations comes when they’re not met. The music is quite within my playing abilities, enough that I sightread with around 90% accuracy the first time. I have some annoying sixteenth-note runs to practice (typical Gilbert & Sullivan), but for the most part I have it.

It’s interesting to contrast GSVLOC with Temple of Aaron when it comes to amenities. Temple’s rented scores were hard to read, and they paid the musicians not a dime (save for the pianist, who was hired for rehearsals too). GSVLOC pays $17 per performance or rehearsal and provides engraved, readable scores as part of the bargain. I could really get used to this, but it’s going to spoil me. 😀

Needless to say, I’m excited about the GSVLOC gig, because I get paid to play my violin. That’s something I have never before been able to do, unless playing for quarters at the zoo as a child counts. I’ve also heard some interesting rumors regarding the production style, which lead me to believe that it will be a somewhat Guthrie-esque presentation. I thought the orchestra would be isolated from the stage, but my veteran stand partner says we’ll have monitors and will be able to watch what’s happening. Yes!

I also have confirmed all my commitments to the Jewish Humor Festival, which starts on February 24th. I’m also excited about the JHF because I will be getting paid to do technical theatre work for the first time, and it will be like getting paid to go to the theatre. My favorite part about doing tech—or at least booth work—is getting to watch the show.

Last summer, I worked backstage for one show and as a follow-spot operator on another. I never got to see the show for which I worked backstage; in fact, I have almost no idea what happened on-stage except for the lines I heard over the greenroom monitor. For the follow-spot show, however, I was able to see everything. (I was technically up on a scaffold tower to run the follow spot. I do have a nearly complete write-up of what I did last summer, to be posted as soon as I can get one last required image from my teacher. Soon, I promise.)

So I like working in (or around) the booth, and I’m very happy about this upcoming JHF event because I wasn’t even expecting it to be paid. My previous communications with the JCC indicated to me that anything I did there would be on a volunteer basis, so it was at least a pleasant surprise.

Of course, it took a lot of time to work out my schedule, since the JHF and GSVLOC‘s The Sorcerer tech week coincide. I put both sets of events on my calendar and made some tough decisions. Then I got emails back from both sides with changes. Then I agonized some more. Then I was released from some of the Sorcerer tech rehearsals (and performances) because of space constraints in the space, which made my life a lot easier.

Just as I thought the schedule was resolved, things changed again. Such is the nature of freelance theatre work, I guess. Fortunately the changes weren’t too major—just a date change for a JHF event that freed me one evening. Of course, I would have rather had that evening filled with something, but I suppose I can’t be too greedy as a newbie.

After all the scheduling work, I have a busy schedule of technical work from February 24th through March 7th, and violin performances throughout the month of March.

Now I really should find out the minimum income for filing income tax; ain’t it great getting paid? I also have to figure out what to do about Social Security—like I’m ever going to get anything back out of it. 😛

Oh, and as for the audition opportunity mentioned in the title, that’s for StageCoach’s Easy Stages production of My Fair Lady next summer, in London. I applied—and was accepted—to a program in London last summer, but didn’t go because of timing and logistics. This summer will probably work better, if I’m cast in the show. Of course, what place is there for someone like me in early-20th-century London… 😛 (My summer post is coming; only one more image I need, and I can publish.)


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.


  1. Gerri Newcamp

    Congrats on your paying music gig! If you intend to do more of the same in the future though, be prepared to see lots of hand-written hard-to-read scores! I have played countless shows in my career, and I’m sorry to say that has been pretty much the norm. Hopefully that should change soon as more people begin to utilize music printing software. During my humble beginnings as a Big Band singer, virtually ALL of my vocal charts resembled chicken scratchings. Some did not even include the lyrics (which I always found curious… it seems to me that that should be a given component of a vocal chart, duh.) The arranger for the band that I have been working the last few years uses Sibelius though. What a marvelous invention!

    • I’ll admit that once I got used to the chicken-scratched scores, they were usable. I suppose I’ll have to get used to the idea of using them in the future.

      MuseScore is an even more marvelous invention, IMO, since it doesn’t carry the $600 price tag of Sibelius, and can accomplish the basic score layout features. Sibelius may have “magnetic layout” and “version tracking”, but the majority of users just want to input the notes and add a few dynamics. MuseScore does that very well.

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