Saturday, June 25, 2011

NOI, Day 23

I've assembled a few more great Michael Stern quotes from this morning's dress rehearsal:

To the violas and cellos:

"NO my little rhythm puppies! It's not together!"

To the first violins, working on the melody in the second movement of Mozart 41:

"You know how when you hold a baby, it's so cute, and it's so lovable, and it's so adorable? But what you don't know, what most of you probably can't quite imagine yet, is holding your own baby. It's completely different than other babies you've held. You hold a piece of yourself. It's suddenly become personal. That's how you must play this melody."

{I think we all teared up when he talked about that.}

In another section, he stopped us because of some rhythm problems and, having us begin again, he counted us in: "Eins und zwei und!" The rhythm was better that time, so he declared, "I see how it is... when I count in German you play together! In the concert, if your rhythm is poor, I will simply whisper to you in German and it will all be perfect."

{He then spent the next ten minutes of rehearsal speaking rapidly in German and offering the occasional translation for our benefit.}

Regarding the Mozart:

"The beginning of the first movement should be like taking a bath in C Major! We're going to take a bucket full of joy and dump it all over the audience!"


"If this doesn't convince you there's a heaven, I don't know what to say..."

And concerning the fugue in the fourth movement, with genuine amazement and wonder:

"AAAAHHHH, the fugue is upside-down! How does he do it? How did he think of it?!"

So that was the rehearsal.

In the afternoon I ran some errands, and had both my afternoon and my faith in humanity utterly ruined by the driver that sideswiped me and sped away, leaving this:

{I know... not the end of the world. But still.}

Then, tonight was the concert. And I think my faith in humanity was restored.

Are you ready to be impressed?



Maestro Stern conducted tonight's concert from memory, without a score. The program:

Wagner, Rienzi Overture
Mozart, Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter"
Bartok, The Miraculous Mandarin
Strauss, Salome's Dance {Can we say 'bass oboe'? Very cool.}

{So much for second violin parts being easier; this was a killer program to play second violin on. For one thing, the Mozart is notoriously a difficult second violin part, especially the last movement. And the other pieces were filled with screaming high C-sharps above five ledger lines and other such atypical second violin writing.}

I was particularly impressed with Maestro Stern's knowledge of the Bartok score from memory - all those meter and tempo changes! He was phenomenal, and so engaged with the orchestra in every moment of each piece.

The audience was so enthusiastic -- one man even shouted "one more time!" after the Bartok. I think audiences can tell when conductors and players are fully committed to what they're doing, and our conductor inspired us towards that tonight.

Before the final piece on the program, the Strauss, Mr. Stern said a few words to the audience. I can't recall everything word for word, but it was something like this:

"If you read the papers much you've probably heard that music is in trouble because of cutbacks and all that. Well, look here on this stage. Music isn't in trouble. Musicians aren't in trouble. What's in trouble is the prioritizations that are sometimes made, and the people put in charge of making them."

{He said it much better than that, though.}

After the concert there was a reception for all of us. Which reminds me: just before the concert Ting-Ting declared, "After the concert my goal is to go straight to the reception and eat twenty pieces of chicken!" I'm not sure if she met her quota or not, but we did get a picture:

And Brooke and I got a picture with Michael Stern:

And here's one with my stand-partner Esther:

After the concert Brooke and I talked a bit.

Brooke: I read your blog religiously now.
Sarah: Religiously! Does that mean you cross yourself before and after reading it?
Brooke: No, it means I pray, 'God, please help Sarah because she's such a horrifyingly bad blogger!'
Sarah: Hey, you should start a blog!
Brooke: No; my life isn't very interesting. Sadly, coming to 'band camp' here is the most interesting thing I've done in a long time.

{Perhaps it's the most interesting thing I've done in a long time, too. I've been posting daily!}

To conclude, you should probably listen to the genius of the fourth movement of Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony.

{No, ours was hardly a period instrument performance like the one in this video!}

And can I just say that nobody writes symphonically for the bassoon like Mozart? I love the bassoon parts in his symphonies. If you didn't listen to the second movement I posted yesterday, go listen to it, and enjoy the bassoon parts.

Oh Mozart. Thank you for making the world a more beautiful place.

1 comment:

  1. Why are you and Ting Ting giving each other peace signs?

    Ok, now that the burning question is out of the way: I'm loving all your posting. And especially all the quotes from your conductor during rehearsal. He sounds like a genius (and conducting a concert from memory??! What?!) and like it would be so much fun to work with him! Usually your music world is so different from mine that I'm not jealous, but I think today I am. :)

    One last thing: I think Brooke must be your soul mate. She has the exact same sense of humor as you do.