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Laurie Niles

January 7, 2004 at 6:33 AM

I just got my music for my next gig and it’s…surprise! Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony!

I just played this a month ago in a different orchestra, which is, nonetheless, in the same metropolitan area. In fact, I just played it last summer. And the season before last. And the summer before that. What is up with this? It would appear that Californians are stuck on Tchaik. Or maybe it’s more universal than this?

There are so many things I haven’t played recently that I would love to play, that I bet people would love to hear. Like, anything by Mahler. Or how about some Debussy? I haven’t played the Franck D minor Symphony since high school; it would be nice to do it justice. Haven’t played or heard Shostakovich First Symphony in some time – what a fun and mercurial piece. And those are just some of the more “accessible” pieces I can think of. What regional orchestra ever invites someone to play the Berg Violin Concerto?

This rash of Tchaik Five performances reminds me of a Dr. Seuss story I read to my children: “Too Many Daves.” A mother has 23 sons and she names them all Dave. The story goes on to list 23 other things she could have named her kids, things that bring to mind wildly varying world views and personalities: Bodkin Van Horn, Hoos-Foos, Snimm, Hot-Shot, Sunny Jim, Shadrack, Blinkey, Stuffy, Stinkey, Putt-Putt, Moon Face, Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face, Ziggy, Soggy Muff, Buffalo Bill, Biffalo Buff, Sneepy, Weepy Weed, Paris Garters, Harris Tweed, Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt, Oliver Boliver Butt, Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate…

“But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.”

All these orchestras, all these concerts, all this funding lined up to pay professional musicians, all the libraries full of scores, can’t anyone come up with an interesting plan? Or do we always have to stick to the safe “Dave” pieces, like Beethoven Five, Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto and Tchaik Five?

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