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Karen Allendoerfer

From Lows to Highs

September 12, 2008 at 1:27 AM

I’ve experienced more than my share of the common anxiety dream where I show up at an exam without having studied, or I find out the big paper is due and I forgot I was even taking the course.

I imagine the violinist’s version might go something like this: you walk into an orchestra rehearsal, the first of the year, after playing and practicing the viola all summer. And the conductor asks you to play violin. And, guess what, you are sight-reading the first violin part of Capricco Italien. And, oh, by the way, you are the concertmaster.

But wait, that wasn’t a dream. That was my first orchestra rehearsal last week.

I’m playing in the Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra, a community orchestra celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. I played in it last year as well. The repertoire is wonderful. We accompanied an amazing young violinist, Pei-Wen Liao, last year on the Beethoven violin concerto. And we premiered a modern work for chamber orchestra and chorale, Michael Veloso’s “Executive Orders.” I enjoy working with the conductor, both personally and for the music he picks. Arlington is the town just north of Belmont, the town where I live. The rehearsals are convenient. This orchestra basically has it all—all, that is, except auditions for string players.

Anxiety dream or no, sight-reading the first violin part Capriccio Italien is a humbling experience. That piece also has it all. “All” in this case meaning lots of climbing the Eing (not to mention the Ging), ricochet bowing and other bowing challenges, crescendos at the tip, 32nd note runs, fast pizzicato, key signatures with flats I had forgotten existed, and a tempo marking of Prestississimo.

But honestly, I think this may now have set the record for the most fun I’ve ever had at an orchestra rehearsal. Kind of like the Egmont Overture that we played last year, or the William Tell, this piece makes you feel powerful. It makes you feel like you can right wrongs and fight the good fight. It makes you want to get up in the morning and listen to it on the iPod while riding the T to work.


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 12, 2008 at 4:32 AM
That sounds absolutely great, Karen. Being appointed concertmistress is quite an honor, and you rose to the challenge of the piece you played. I could almost feel your excitement about it. I hope that all your experiences with this orchestra are fun and rewarding.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 12, 2008 at 10:26 AM
The concertmaster thing is probably temporary. There were a few people not there that first week, and seating is somewhat fluid. I'm thinking the position will ultimately rotate for different concerts, but that's up to the conductor.

I made a bit of a fuss about getting uniform bowings and marked parts last year (thanks Corwin) and so now I am trying to do my part to contribute to that process.

There seems to be a lot of good energy at the rehearsals, and while the music is a challenge for us, I think we can rise to it.

And now my violinist credentials are back in good standing--I'm practicing and learning something on the violin that's more advanced than the B part to "Can-can" :-)

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 12, 2008 at 11:57 AM
Aww, what a great story! : )
From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 12, 2008 at 12:58 PM
Keep up the good work!
From Tess Z
Posted on September 12, 2008 at 10:24 PM
That is excellent! I can hear the excitement in your words.

That door did open... :)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 13, 2008 at 7:07 AM
I really like having uniform bowings written on the pages. I'm glad you're going to do it.
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on September 13, 2008 at 9:30 PM
Yay Karen! What fun. Being concertmaster is kind of daunting, but also really exciting too. Hope your concert is wonderful. :)

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