All is explained
Last week we played Tschaikovsky’s 5th Symphony. I’m not particularly fond of Tschaikovsky, other than Swan Lake, and I had a hard time even finding the desire to practice it. I also mistakenly thought that the concert was tonight rather than last week, so I had a moment of panic when I realized I had a week less to practice than I originally thought. Still, I was feeling pretty good about my preparation by the time dress rehearsal rolled around, even considering I was flat on my back sick for three days last week.
It seems like our conductor has a habit of taking slightly faster tempos in the concert though, not sure if that’s just the adrenaline or what, but it keeps us on our toes. As I remarked to B on our way home, I felt like I played quite well, except for this one spot in the last movement where there was a tempo change and it felt like nobody quite caught it right and it took a measure or two for everyone to really get back together.
So at rehearsal this week, our conductor was talking about the fine job we did last weekend and the complimentary comments he had received from people and he thought everyone had enjoyed our performance except for maybe one guy. “Did anyone notice the guy in the balcony?” Apparently some guy up there had brought his own bottle of, well, who knows what, and by the end of Tschaikovsky was fairly drunk and trying to climb up the wall by the exit by the choir seats. Our conductor happened to glance up and notice him just as we were heading for that important tempo change and, well, that explains a lot! Our orchestra manager rushed up to the balcony from the floor and was able to get the man to go back to his seat while we finished out the last few minutes of music.
Half of the cello and viola sections noticed him, but I was oblivious.
Other than that, our concert went really well. After our previous concert with the Moroccan charity and the artist painting live to our music, our conductor said he was so looking forward to doing a straightforward classical concert with an overture, a concerto, and a symphony. We did have local high school students playing the overture with us for our annual side-by-side piece. Then we reduced to a small string orchestra plus piano and harp for the Copland Clarinet Concerto. That was a really great piece. It was originally written for Benny Goodman and was very catchy. I’m still humming it. One of my friends in the second violin section who didn’t play that piece told me she was really glad because it sounded really hard with lots of crazy rhythms.
I thought it was great fun. I love pieces that are hard rhythmically. I’ve always been really good at rhythm and with this one, as long as you remembered a quarter note was worth two eighth notes, it wasn’t that hard. Much easier in fact than worrying about it going from 4/4 time to 3/4 to 5/8 to 2/4 and back to 4/4. Just keep playing quarter notes twice as long as the eighths!
Now we’re preparing our Christmas concert. It should be interesting. We’re playing Amahl and the Night Visitors with the University Opera Ensemble because some donor gave the music department $30,000 specifically for Amahl. They didn’t want to fund any scholarships with it, they just wanted to build a set. So they’re building a set and a small group of us (I’ll be one of two cellos) will be accompanying them on the side of the stage as there is no place for a pit orchestra in that hall. Then to go with the Wise Men theme, we’re playing Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings suite. It doesn’t sound remotely Christmasy, but it’s interesting. I didn’t know Duke Ellington even wrote symphonic music.
Then we’re playing Respighi’s Three Botticelli Paintings, of which the middle movement is The Adoration of the Magi. The outer movements are Spring and The Birth of Venus which have nothing to do with Christmas, but they’re pretty and we’re playing them anyway. So, like I said, it should be interesting.
Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m., Libby Gardner Hall if you’re in town. . .