Recently the community band had a couple of performances, I played Dixieland with a very high level group of players, I did the music for a small country church Sunday service, and my group played for some military veterans the day after Memorial Day.
One thing that strikes me over and over with the community band is just how much the acoustic environment affects our sound. Because we are such a relatively large group, approaching 50 members, the balance of what I hear in the horn section is remarkably different from room to room. I've gotten used to the fact that it's always going to be different from how we sound in rehearsals, but it's still a little unsettling trying to play to a room on the fly.
The other thing about the two venues the band plays in is that one is smaller and people sit closer to the front and to each other than in the other, where the same number of people are scattered throughout a larger auditorium. We always get a better response in the first.
The Dixieland performance was on the front porch of Ambrose (brother of James) Madison's home for a Garden Week afternoon party. I'd played with the trumpet, trombone and drummer before, but had never even met the clarinet, tenor sax and double bass players. I've heard about pros getting together and sight reading for performances, but never done so myself, and was amazed at how well we played. (I had gotten the banjo music a couple of weeks before and the pieces I was unfamiliar with I drilled over and over - so I wasn't sight reading).
At the time of the performance I was completely focused on listening and trying to play as supportively as I could. Only listening to the recording could I fully appreciate just how good the other players were and how nearly every tune settled into a great rhythmic groove. Listening to the CD the first few times induced a sort of delayed flow that I was too busy in the head in the moment to appreciate.
For the church service I played solo horn for prelude and postlude, alto flute while the offering plate was being passed, and led the congregation in hymn singing with the guitar. The church was full of family and friends, and helping people on their spiritual paths with music is something I find deeply rewarding.
The Kenwood Players played for the Ride 2 Recovery for a second year and had a great time. We played well and were very well received. I was also pleased that over time I've gotten more efficient setting up and striking the audio equipment so that it took less than an hour for each and the system worked well.
One thing I noticed at this event as well as the Dixieland event was how at the beginning of brass licks when a player is really laying into a riff, a few audience members will spontaneously yell out something like "Yeahhh" in just the instant after the riff starts, almost like they're making music with us for a moment. I'd love to know exactly what it is that triggers that reaction, as it's such an intense engagement of a listener.