Tag Archives: rehearsal

BSO Academy, The Final Day (Georgeann)

BSO AcademyI can’t believe it’s over.

As I write this, I’m on the road home.  So much has happened, and I’ve learned so much that it will fuel this blog with content for a couple more weeks, at least.

Dress Rehearsal

BSO Academy Group 1 Dress Rehearsal with Marin Alsop conducting.

Saturday brought dress rehearsal with Marin Alsop and the orchestra.   Our group, Group 2, finally had a chance to sit in the hall and listen to the rehearsal of Group 1.  Group 1 had a different repertoire to perform:

  • The Overture to Candide, by Leonard Bernstein (an Alsop mentor!)
  •  Alborada del gracioso, by Maurice Ravel, and
  • The first movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony #2.
Dress Rehearsal-Correcting a problem

Marin Alsop works with the orchestra to iron out a problem.

The Bernstein is a favorite orchestra concert opener, and is full of light-hearted humor and fun.  The Ravel is a French Impressionist composer’s take on Spanish music, and was very different from the Rimskey-Korsakov take on Spanish music that our group had in the Capriccio.   The Mahler was alternately thrilling and ethereal, appropriate for a Symphony that has the subtitle, “Resurrection.”

Dress Rehearsal-Cellos

Group 1 plays Mahler at rehearsal.

Our group one colleagues returned the favor as our Group took the stage for our final rehearsal.  My extra practice on the Capriccio paid off, in a compliment from my stand partner on the progress I had made in 24 hours.    A “class photo”, lunch and a Q&A with Marin Alsop followed, and then we had the afternoon off to relax, rendezvous with our families and friends, and prepare for the final concert.

The Meyerhoff was about three-quarters full for the final concert; the size of the audience surprised the BSO musicians.  The Symphony had also billed the concert as a “Donor Appreciate Concert” so the private boxes were well populated.  The concert was also free to the general public, so we also attracted some local fans of the symphony.

Unlike most of my colleagues who sat in the audience, I listened in the Green Room with another Academy member – an oboe player – during the first half of the concert.  It turned out to be strategic:  I was able to hear Marin’s comments as she came off-stage after the Mahler.  She was clearly happy with the Group 1 performance.

Then it was time for our Group to take the stage.  I felt surprisingly relaxed – no attack of nerves like I had suffered on Friday during the chamber performance – and it was all over way too quickly.  The Capriccio and the Hindemith are both such show pieces, that the audience immediately left to its feet at the end, giving us a standing ovation and three curtain calls.

We were all exhilarated.  We had done it!  We had played side-by-side with the BSO, and had learned so much and worked so hard.  None of us were ready for it to be over.

We have many memories and a host of ideas to improve our playing for the future.  So, where do I sign up for next year?

Advertisement

1 Comment

Filed under Fun Stuff, Inspiration, Personal Journey

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fun Stuff, Inspiration, Personal Journey

BSO Academy, Day 1

The afternoon performance of Verdi’s Requiem, with more than 120 voices joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, was alternately stunning, ethereal, and emotionally moving.  So it was amusing to learn, talking to members of the brass section after the performance, that they nearly “lost it” midway through the performance when a cell phone went off at a critical moment, with a ringtone that was perfectly in key.

Marin Alsop addresses the BSO Academy Musicians

BSO Music Director Marin Alsop addresses the BSO Academy Musicians

That casual, companions-in-music camaraderie, set a great tone for the opening day of the BSO Academy.   As music director Marin Alsop told the assembled musicians (mostly midlifers like me), “it’s about the passion we all share for music.”   The BSO Academy, now in its second year, is a very different experience for the musicians, too, she says.

“We are here to help,” she told us.  “It’s not about pressure.  Any pressure you feel, you are putting on yourself.  We just want to help you improve your skill set and music making, so you can reach new goals.”

At the same time, Alsop warned that she would not go easy on the BSO Academy musicians, just because we are amateurs.  “I can’t help it,” she said.  “I work with every orchestra as if it is a major orchestra.”  But she also promised that the experience would “take you where you are and move you ten levels up.”

There are a lot of people here who do other things for a living:  a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a retired marketing executive, and so on, with home addresses that include Maryland, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Massachusetts, and California.

Crab Cake Sandwich at Phillips Seafood at Harborplace in Baltimore

As the schedules were passed out over dinner, it’s clear it will be a challenging week.  I have my first private lesson at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, followed by classes on preventing injury, Alexander Technique, sectional rehearsal, chamber music rehearsal, and — after dinner — another class on sight reading.

Good thing I got my crab cake fix at lunch today!

1 Comment

Filed under Fun Stuff, Inspiration, Music and Aging, Personal Journey

Letting Go, and Letting Music

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, winding up my corporate career.   This week, I’ll formally begin my new life as an entrepreneur.   And, in a strange way, my musical life has been the better for it.

It’s not that I’ve been practicing more; if anything, I have had much less time to practice.   Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Personal Journey