I've just finished a 4 day season of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado. My back is so tense, I need 4 japanese massage girls working on my back around the clock... however that probably isn't gonna happen.
I've just been listening to Bond's latest album (2004 release, I know, I took a while to decide I wanted it). While there are some ok songs on there (I don't mind explosive particularly), I just cannot stand how they desecrated Barber's Adagio for strings.
This work (Taken from Barber's Second String Quartet), is the most powerful, mournful and emotional work of the twentieth century. It has been often associated with mourning after being played at funerals of two former US Presidents. It is extreemly powerful in it's own right.
I can't stand what Bond has done. It is completely unforgiveable in my opinion. As with most of their works, they have put a drum beat on. However, the drum beat is more a dance style thing, and not something that fits the piece. These players, all of whom have studied at top notch conservatories, should be ashamed of themselves for putting out this piece of music that isn't fit to be listened to by a room full of deaf people.
I definately won't be in a hurry to buy their next album.
Couple of performances in the past couple of days.
Last night, I had my orchestra performance. We performed the Bach E Major Violin Concerto, Grieg's Holberg suite, and Veni Creator Spiritus by Australian Composer Ross Edwards. We were led by WASO Associate Concert Master Margaret Blades, with Michael Goldschlager leading the Cello section.
The concert was fantastic, by all reports. Of course there were mistakes, but none of the audicne that I talked to noticed, which is all that mattered.
In the first movement of the Bach, Margaret broke her E string. Congrats to everyone involved, with Michael holding onto the B as long as possible, harpsichordist Stewart Smith prepared to start playing the Violin line on the Harpsichord, while Associate Concert master Rebecca White swapped violins so quickly that none of the other arrangements were neccessary. Well Done to Rebecca for completing the rest of the concerto with no E string.
The Ross Edwards is an amazingly beautiful piece. Starting with the Plain song tune Veni Creator Spiritus (Latin: Come Creator Spirit), it consists of two movements, the first - a dreamscape type movement featuring beautiful tonal changes and no vibrato for the majority of the movement. Notes in their purest form. The second movement is destinctly more archaic in nature, sounding celtic to me. It has "unconventional" time signatures (5/8 and 7/8 is as bad as it gets) and splits the orchestra up into 4 violin parts, 2 viola parts, 2 celli parts and bass. If you ever get an opportunity to hear this work, I encourage you to do so.
I also did some "Performances" of my two movements of Bach G minor today. After practicing for an hour, I found a couple of people to listen to me do the movement by memory. Went through it pretty well, and got some comments back on it, some good ideas for me to work on as well. Then a friend came in and asked me to listen to her Bach (on cello) and then she'd listen to my Bach. So basically two full runs in about half an hour. I was tired after that.
I also got a chance to perform the Presto from the G minor in String class today. It went fairly well, and Michael gave me some technical ideas to look at to improve my performance. So that, with the couple of musical ideas I received in the morning, have got me enthusiastic.
My only complaint at my playing (made by myself) is that in the three run throughs I did today, all from memory, I had memory slips. That's not my complaint though - I knew i would have memory slips, I had wanted to get through it now so that I had experience when it comes to my recital. Perform now, so I know where to work on. My complaint is that my memory slipped in a different place each time. very annoying.
Oh well, it's all stuff for me to work on. More practice to come... I still need to do a lot of work on my Sarasate.
I was lucky to be able to go today to an Open rehearsal by the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. This was their last rehearsal before their performances tonight and tomorrow night. On the program are two symphonies by Mozart, 29 and 39, the Second violin concerto by Sergei Prokofiev with Boris Belkin, and Un sourire by Messiaen.
The rehearsal was open seating, so I took my spot somewhere in the middle, in what would have been A reserve. While I was not able to hear everything that the conductor said to the orchestra (which I would've had I chosen to sit in the Choir Stalls), the location that I chose gives the best sound from the orchestra and still the ability to see most things.
The rehearsal started with a couple of announcements for the orchestra which we didn't get to hear all that well, and then we were introduced to the conductor, the young Englishman Alexander Shelley. Small in stature, Shelley provided a youthful edge to an orchestra who's string section is starting to see a youthful invigoration after a number of elderly retirements. Shelley ran through what repeats would be done in the Mozart symphonies quickly and the orchestra quickly scribbled down the neccessary infomation.
We then went into the Messiaen. This work was a homage to Mozart, though it's difficult to see where. The work itself is amazing, and one I'm sure audiences will enjoy, with Australian audiences hearing this for the first time at this weekend's concerts by WASO. Shelley ran the rehearsal as I would expect any final rehearsal to be run, a quick check of some difficult passages, and then a run through.
Shelley was also in fine form in this informal concert, addressing the audience and giving a small introduction to the work, which I am sure no-one had heard before. I did not expect this from him, however was glad that he gave it.
What struck me was how quickly the orchestra worked. Having only had experience in Youth and University orchestras, I'm used to it taking a good 10-20 seconds between the conductor saying "let's start here" and the orchestra actually starting, where as it was almost instantaneous with the professional orchestra.
After the Messiaen, a slight break as unneccessary players departed, and on came 7 double basses which weren't in the Messiaen at all. Shelley gave a brief introduction of Boris Belkin (which consisted of "Now this man needs no introduction, but I'll tell you that he's Boris Belkin") and we launched into the same routine with the Prokofiev - a couple of cleaning sections, and then a run through.
I was very interested to see how the orchestra worked with the soloist, and how much Belkin communicated with Shelley, staring intentley up at him for large periods of time, and often saying instructions to him: "Quieter" or "Slower" Once we got into the run through, interruptions were minimal, and only where absolutely neccessary.
There was one such interruption that was really neccessary - in the third movement, near the end, a string on Belkin's violin broke. I couldn't see which string it was, but from the pegs that he moves, I am assuming it was the A string. He swapped violins with the concert master (Associate concert master Margaret Blades), and continued to the end.
The orchestra finished with a couple of cleaning areas of Mozart, then finished the rehearsal early.
WASO run these open rehearsals regularly, about 4 or 5 each year. They are open to friends and patrons of WASO, as well as High School and Tertiary students. They are a really good chance to see the orchestra working, to see scenes that you don't normally see. It gives you a good sense of the professionalism needed to be a part of one of these orchestras.
I would encourage any students who are considering a career as an orchestral musician to contact their local symphony orchestra to see if they run similar programs. It not only is a chance to see the symphony at work, but also to hear the concert programs at a very cheap price (Normally I would go to the concert, however I am very broke this weekend).
Had a really good day today.
Phoned up about a gig, playing in the Pit for a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. Now this musical is my all-time favourite of theirs. My sister, girlfriend and best-friend (and me) are fanatical about some performances of Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore, with Simon Gallaher and Jon English with the lead roles. We watch them almost every time we get together, and can sing, act and recite just about every line (and this is all through watching and listening, we've never looked at a script). So for me to be doing this is most excellent. It will also be my first professional gig - quite fitting that it be for my favourite musical.
I also met someone today who reads my blog. I was most stoked to hear this, as I admire and respect them highly. So for them to be reading my blog, I was quite shocked, but also really quite humbled (that's probably not the word i want, but I can't think of the word that i really want) that they would be reading my blog.
So I thought I owe a favour to everyone that reads my blogs. They read it, and they get an insight into my world. But I haven't been posting all that often recently. SO I'm going to make an effort to start blogging more often - even if it's just an account of what happened, what i practiced, and why I hate this lecturer. It's all a good insight (i hope) into this life of mine, especially leading up to my recital (November 17)
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