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Laurie Niles

September 1, 2005 at 6:53 AM

So today in the mail I received my music for a concert I'm looking forward to: the New West Symphony with Pinchas Zukerman .

I was tickled to find that the orchestra did not send out copies of its own library part or of rental music for Mozart Concerto No. 5; it sent a copy of Zukerman's personal orchestra set, with every bowing, slur, fingering and articulation written in. And I have it sitting here on my music stand a full two weeks before the first rehearsal.

Would anyone like to know the definition of “professional”? It is a beautiful thing. The concert, I'm sure, also will be a beautiful thing.

I've spent much of my summer playing for various gigs at which the orchestras were reticent to send the music to anyone. They were worried rental parts would be lost (can't they copy it?) or that mailing it would cost too much, or maybe they just thought the process too much of a bother. For one concert, in order to pay the musicians for only one “service,” (which is a period of usually two and a half hours), one hourlong rehearsal was followed by a the musicians walking straight out on stage to play the hourlong concert. Another concert, for which no music was provided until the first (and only) rehearsal, included the “Bartered Bride.” The concertmaster (unhappy me) wasn't even provided the music to put in bowings; they just figured we'd use the ones already there from previous concerts.

I think the orchestra librarian and management decided that if we musicians are such professionals, we ought to be able to sight-read (or already have in hand) any piece of orchestra music set on our desks. What are they paying us these Musicians Union wages for, anyway?

Well, yes, we can play it. But to what level? And that's to say nothing of the fact that a rehearsal is for bringing an orchestra together, not for reading notes.

The concert with Zukerman has four rehearsals, a fine group of musicians, a stellar soloist. Extremely standard repertoire. And what is the prevailing attitude? It is rather like the Scouts: Be Prepared. For the first rehearsal, that is.

I will be, and so will the entire orchestra. I respect this soloist, who has already respected me.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 1, 2005 at 6:29 PM
Beautifully stated, Laurie and Bill. It's not just about money; it's about respect and maintaining high standards. Mr. Zukerman is rather busy, but he takes the time to do things well. I wish others would.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 2, 2005 at 1:39 AM
Do you find players groaning at non-standard pieces? Is Zukerman just coming to the last rehearsal?

It's worth the extra preparation. Good show means good party afterward.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 2, 2005 at 8:51 PM
I find that people who groan, groan. People who love music do not groan so much if they are given an opportunity to play something to a high standard, be it standard or new. I did groan one time in the Omaha Symphony at a new piece when we were asked to bring our favorite rocks and click them together for part of the music. It seemed gimmicky, but at least one of my fellow orch members dutifully brought in his favorite garden rock.

I imagine the orch will rehearse Mozart whether PZ is there or not the first night!

From adrian barnwell
Posted on September 14, 2005 at 3:36 PM
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