Soloist joining in with the orchestra after the concerto

May 7, 2017 at 04:47 PM · Last night I was playing in a concert in which the main item in the first half was the Sibelius VC, performed faultlessly by teenager Cristina Dimitrova. She encored with a spectacular Kreisler's "Tambourin Chinois".

The second half of the concert was Saint-Saens' 3rd Symphony, the "Organ", chosen to celebrate the refurbishment of the church's organ, which included tuning it up to A440 for working with orchestras. When we returned to the platform after the interval I found our soloist sitting next to me in the firsts, ready to play. I must say her presence was invaluable and much appreciated by the section in that demanding symphony.

This is the first time I've had a visiting soloist join in with the orchestra after a concerto. Have others had this experience? Is it that uncommon?

[Edit added] Cristina Dimitrova was using the "Russian" string set-up - steel E and A, with, I believe, covered gut D and G. It projected extremely well.

Replies (22)

May 7, 2017 at 04:52 PM · I have never heard of this happening except in youth orchestras where the soloist was already a member, not a visiting artist. Interesting.

May 7, 2017 at 05:15 PM · There's a story about Yehudi Menuhin playing a concerto at a concert in the Three Choirs Festival in Worcestershire, England, and after the interval slipping unobtrusively into the back desk of the seconds to play the symphony, to the puzzlement of the conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams who was heard muttering that he could have sworn he saw Menuhin in the orchestra. His puzzlement was forgiveable because Menuhin would have been in black like all the other men in the orchestra. In my concert last night, Cristina Dimitrova was attired in a full length red dress which was pretty obvious amongst the entire black of the orchestra!

May 7, 2017 at 05:17 PM · I never saw or did this, but it sounds great!

May 7, 2017 at 05:42 PM · I have heard of Yo Yo Ma joining the orchestra after his solo.

May 7, 2017 at 06:10 PM · I've never seen this with a touring soloist, only with players who are members of the symphony. Interesting!

May 7, 2017 at 06:43 PM · Hmmm. She should at least have put on black to be more respectful.

May 7, 2017 at 06:43 PM · I guess she did not do this in rehearsals, since you do not mention it. Did she?

May 7, 2017 at 08:59 PM · Helen, no, she didn't do this in the rehearsals. However, the week before, we had a rehearsal of the Sibelius VC with the services of a stand-in soloist - a violinist from one of the BBC orchestras who lived in the area. She, as you'd expect, was note perfect and for the purposes of the rehearsal played the VC absolutely straight. After the coffee break she shared my desk in the firsts for a rehearsal of the Saint-Saens symphony, for which I was very grateful because I'd been called in only that day as a deputy and was sight-reading everything! I survived.

Cristina Dimitrova's outfit was for wearing as a soloist fronting an orchestra (in black) before an audience and so was intended to concentrate visual attention on her. My guess is that when she joined in with the orchestra she didn't have a standard orchestra black outfit with her, and her everyday clothes would have been inappropriate. She is 16, a pupil at Wells Cathedral School in England, so at this stage in what I hope will be a successful career I think some slack can be cut! Perhaps she welcomed the chance to play the magnificent Saint-Saens 3rd symphony, which isn't all that often performed because of the extra resources needed (church organ and a concert piano).

May 7, 2017 at 09:36 PM · That makes sense.

May 7, 2017 at 10:48 PM · On one occasion Martin Milner (leader of the Halle) played a Mozart concerto with the Ulster Orchestra in the first half, and joined the firsts for the second half.

May 7, 2017 at 11:42 PM · I think it's perfectly fine that your young soloist kept her red gown on to join the orchestra. Better that than having the half-blind old-timers (like me) in the cheap seats nudging one another and asking, "Is that the same violinist we just saw?"

It seems improbable to me that she would have been sight-reading her parts. The level of risk would seem pretty high even if skilled. Probably she knew the program and learned her parts in advance?

May 8, 2017 at 12:20 AM · Here is a YouTube link to part of the Sibelius VC being performed by Cristina Dimitrova in the concert on 6 May. Btw, she is aged 16, so I've amended my previous post accordingly.

Someone in the audience made this video with a hand-held camera, giving some idea of her performance.

I was outside 3rd desk in the firsts, off camera behind a pillar almost all the time ;)

May 8, 2017 at 12:29 AM · Clarification: The reason I said she should put on black is because in an orchestra, you should not draw attention to yourself.

May 8, 2017 at 12:29 AM · Clarification: The reason I said she should put on black is because in an orchestra, you should not draw attention to yourself.

May 8, 2017 at 12:36 AM · Yes, I would agree on that. If you plan to join the orchestra for the second half, bring black to change into.

May 8, 2017 at 03:09 AM · The girl plays with a fire in her eyes nome the less. I don't think there's any reason to fret over the particulars.

May 8, 2017 at 07:30 AM · Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg did that once here, and so did someone else whose name escapes me.

May 8, 2017 at 08:39 AM · A bit more background about the concert. Cristina spent virtually all of the interval conversing with members of the audience (who were lining up to meet her!) so there would have been little opportunity to change, and I strongly suspect she was asked that evening if she would like to play the symphony. But as Bailey says - there was fire in her eyes; nothing else matters.

May 8, 2017 at 08:57 AM · Only the finest soloists (irrespective of age) can switch easily from being the centre of attention to a more subservient support role. And actually follow the conductor!

May 8, 2017 at 12:57 PM · Adrian, in the symphony I could see that Cristina was following the conductor like a hawk, and watching the leader for bowing. Possibly a rare opportunity to play in that symphony?

And her posture when playing sitting? Very upright, sitting towards the front of the seat.

May 8, 2017 at 01:13 PM · Good for her!

May 8, 2017 at 02:16 PM · I have known this happen exactly once - a professional viola soloist with our amateur orchestra in London said he loved the symphony we were doing in the second half (Elgar 2, I think?) and could he join in? Naturally we were delighted.

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