Introducing Michael O'Gieblyn
Follow the Fiddlershop Youtube Channel? Then, you've probably seen a new face. We'd like to introduce Violinist and Violist Michael O'Gieblyn to the Fiddlershop family. He's put out a slew of recent videos, featuring our products and playing our string instruments.
Michael brings an impressive resumé to the team. He plays violin with the Miami City Ballet and Palm Beach Symphony. He is the creator of OrchestraExcerpts.com, "a resource for helping musicians study excerpts." He also hosts the podcast -- Per Service.
He produces educational and entertaining Youtube videos -- a funny guy with a wealth of knowledge on the violin family.
Let's a learn a little bit more about him.
What is your title at Fiddlershop? Video Producer?
Actually, I don’t think I have an official title, but if I had to make one for myself, it would be “silly video maker and espresso drinker in residence."
How long have you played violin and viola?
Well, I started playing violin when I was four years-old, and I picked up viola when I was about 12 or 13. For many years, viola was just “for emergencies only,” but then I played viola in a quartet on a cruise ship for about three months. After that, I've really enjoyed playing it and feel much more comfortable in that role. But I feel more at home on violin.
Any funny or embarrassing musical stories from your life?
Oh, where do I start? Some of the most bizarre situations come from playing weddings. You just never know what is going to happen, or what people are going to ask you to do. One embarrassing wedding I can vividly remember was my very first wedding gig.
I got an opportunity to sub with an established wedding quartet for their violist who was busy that day. So, for the entire prelude -- mothers and bridesmaids -- I played viola. The angles and lines of sight were kind of awkward, so I had my back to the aisle for all of this, and it was going pretty well.
However, for the bridal processional, we were, of course, playing Pachelbel’s Canon, and the quartet only had an arrangement for three violins; they told me this in advance. Rather than try to shuffle books around and stuff, they just had me play first violin for Pachelbel.
Somewhere in the mess of trying to quickly swap out the viola for my violin, flip through the binder to find the post-it note indicating where the processional was, the other violinist whispered “remember, we probably won’t play the whole thing.”
So, we launch into that delightful piece and make it through four or five rounds that are sounding pretty good. To be honest, I was pretty nervous this whole time because I had just switched to violin, so everything felt a little funny still; I was trying to make sure I did a good job to impress this quartet, so that hopefully I could get some more gigs from them. Then, of course, there were almost 200 people at this wedding listening to me, and I didn’t want to mess up this super important moment for the bride either.
While I was thinking about all this stuff, the quartet started to get a little shaky. One of the violinists sounded lost, the cellist was getting behind. I was right in the middle of all the fast notes, and things were falling apart. I decided if I compensated by playing louder and more confidently, the quartet would find me and get back on track. What I couldn’t see was that the bridal party was already done processing and my quartet members that could see this were really trying to wrap things up.
But, I was not going to have it. Eventually, the other three completely stopped playing and even tapped me on the knee to stop playing. For about four glorious measures that I wish I could erase from the world, I scrambled and searched for a way to cadence in D Major. Some terrible scale and an open D was the only thing I could pull together by the time I realized that everyone in the room was waiting for me to stop playing. Needless to say, I didn’t get called to sub with them again.
Oh, no! I hate to laugh at that, but oops.... Ok, if you had to choose, would you travel with your violin through the Saharan Desert or to the top of Mount Everest?
Well, I’m not sure I would take my good violin in either scenario. Maybe my “picnic fiddle.” In which case I’d say: Mount Everest. Walking in sand gets pretty tiring.
If you weren't a musician, what career would you have?
If a fairy godmother could wave a magic wand and “poof!” make me an astronaut? That would be out-of-this world! But if there's no fairy godmother and I had to work for it, maybe an engineer. I like solving problems and puzzles, and I might be good at that.
Why do you believe music is important?
Music just has magical properties. It has a way of speaking to people that nothing else can. It unlocks feelings and emotions that we bottle up, shove down, and lock away because of stress and trying to pay the bills. Music can make us cry, make us dance, get us pumped up to run 26 miles. If 100 people go to the same concert, the same music can speak 100 different things to those people, because no two people experience music the exact same way.
That’s magical and worth protecting.
What's going to save Classical music?
The short answer is: Robots!
Let me explain. I don’t believe that Classical music is dead. In fact, I think we’re heading towards a place where the arts, and making art is really what it means to be human. Robots, artificial intelligence, and self-driving cars are quickly replacing many traditional jobs, and even customer service industries to the extent that communicating with a robot or a human are almost indistinguishable. I believe that live performances are going to become all the more sought after, and many of the people who lost their jobs to the robots will become artists and musicians to create something unique.
Even if robots become really, really, really good at playing the violin, I don’t think they’ll ever be as good as humans, and people will pay to hear the distinction. Of course I could be way off. The answer might be billionaire philanthropists. That’d probably be easier.
What would be the craziest musical dare you'd accept?
Hmm… I mean my standards are pretty low as it is, so I’d probably be up for anything if I got paid. Actually, prestigious dares would probably scare me more. For instance, if someone said, “We need you to play the Tchaikovsky concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic tomorrow night, and we don’t care what it sounds like”; I’d probably chicken out. But if the same person was like, “will you dress up like drum stick and run up and down the road playing the ‘Chicken Dance” I would be like, “what time, and what road?"
Welcome to the team!
Thank you! It’s such a fun place to work, and I’m learning a lot.