Tag Archives: conducting

BSO Academy, Friday Orchestra (Georgeann)

Friday morning, our group had a long practice scheduled with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony.  A lot of focused practice allowed me to become more secure on some of the fast runs of the Hindemith, so I was anxious for rehearsal to see if i had it right.  As it turned out, Marin was stuck in traffic, and we began under the leadership of her graduate student, who is completing a two-year fellowship at the BSO.

He began the first movement at a somewhat slower tempo than we had experienced with Marin, which made playing the Hindemith easier for me.  (He is the conductor at the podium in the WBAL-TV report on the camp.) Marin appeared a few minutes into the rehearsal, and spent some of the morning coaching him on his techniques.  “You have to play every instrument,” she told him.

With her conducting style, using her entire body, there is no ambiguity about what she wants and when she wants it.  A wind player told me that it felt to him like his experience as a naval aviator:  it was like that moment in air-to-air combat when a “target solution” is reached.   When she cues you, it’s clear you are locked in her sight down the baton, and you either play, or you die!

When Marin took over, she made an adjustment in the original plan that was univerally praised by the Academy members.  Based on feedback from Academy musicians that they wanted to hear more of the BSO, she had the BSO players play a movement, before having us all play it together.  That change allowed us amateurs to pull our noses out of the score and watch our stand partners closely.  We also had a chance to listen to the nuances of dynamics and tone Marin wanted in the music.  That change allowed us to ramp up our game, and play better.

On the downside, what became glaringly obvious to me was that I had been TOO focused on the Hindemith in practice at the expense of the Rimskey-Korsakov – a situation I needed able to remedy with more practice!

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Interlochen, Day 2 (Chuck)

Today was the first full day of band camp. In many ways it was a feeling of back to school. The beautiful campus at the Interlochen Center for the arts, people scurrying in all directions heading to class, instead of a backpack of books, instruments in hand, folks getting to know each other during meal time in the cafeteria. I’ve met midlife musicians from California, Montana, Florida, North Carolina, as well as members of New Horizons Bands from around the state.  They all have pretty much the same story, they either played when they were younger and  began playing again after 30 or even 40 years, or decided it was something they wanted to do after they retired.  Many of them have been only playing a couple of years, and a few have attended several camps each time coming away learning something new.

Bears statue at Interlochen

This statue of a mother and baby bear is a favorite meet-up point at Interlochen.

I’m taking a fairly basic schedule this week: there is a saxophone ensemble class first thing in the morning. There are six of us in the class, two are good, the rest of us are fairly green, but we manage to get through the music without too many major mistakes.  The Intermediate Band is fairly small, the woodwind section is fairly green (there were two alto’s at the sectional rehearsal) but with practice I think we will sound okay at our concert Friday morning.

After the morning sessions, I need to rest my lip a bit, lunch, and a free period. Today was spent in one of the practice huts working on Intermediate Band music. Tomorrow may be used to work on technique for the only afternoon class I have, beginning conducting.  Gotta work on what comes after the downbeat.

Other courses being offered this week include, conch shell  playing, introduction to percussion for wind players and a class that seems a bit intriguing, “Way Back and Far Out”…(Bach and after Beethoven). There is also a strolling band class, and classes on jazz styles.

Then there is dinner and another chance to meet my fellow campers, and an evening session for the Intermediate and Advanced bands. Then maybe a little time to unwind, and maybe a little more practice if the lip holds out.

So far lots of walking, enjoying the wonderful Northern Michigan weather (sunny, highs in the low 70s) and casual conversations with some great people.

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