Fab Four

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The Fab Four that is the St. Louis Symphony trombone section plays Ludwig van Beethoven’s Three Equali for Four Trombones at Powell Hall Friday and Saturday night. They start the show, alone on stage, and make music with their amazing song machines. Trombone is a very songful instrument, as you’ll hear in this week’s video blog.

Wednesday Night Mass

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If you are not a Twitter follower–and believe me, I understand if you are not–Wednesday night during my live rehearsal tweets you missed this blurry photo of Principal Timpani Shannon Wood showing me the place in his part where the he plays “diggadadiggadadiggadadiggadadig.”

Principal Timpani Shannon Wood

Principal Timpani Shannon Wood

When David Robertson discussed the Credo section of Beethoven’s Mass in C, he introduced it by saying, “If you’re looking for a good time, check out the timpani part.”

If you’re looking for a good time, be at Powell Hall Friday or Saturday night. Many good times to be had.

Kaiser’s 20th

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René Spencer Saller’s profile of St. Louis Symphony Chorus Director Amy Kaiser was picked up by playbillarts.com. Amy celebrates 20 seasons with the Symphony Chorus in 1415, and you’ll be sure to read some quotes from her during my live tweet from Powell Hall during Beethoven Mass in C rehearsal Wednesday night. #slsoRehearse from 6:45-8pm. Here’s René’s article: click.

#slsoRehearse

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As I mentioned last week, I will be sending out live tweets from the Powell Hall stage during the first rehearsal of Beethoven’s Mass in C, featuring the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus, Wednesday night, January 21, 6:45-8pm.

You can follow me on Twitter at #slsoRehearse. I’ll offer commentary, David Robertson quotes, and share all I can of what I see and hear. I’ll take some photos too.

I thank the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus for allowing me to join them on stage, and I thank David Robertson and Chorus Director Amy Kaiser for granting me permission. Although Amy had one rule: I’m not allowed to sing.

St. Louis Symphony Chorus Director Amy Kaiser: The chorus sings, not the writer. Photo credit: Gerry Love

St. Louis Symphony Chorus Director Amy Kaiser: The chorus sings, not the writer. Photo credit: Gerry Love

Let’s Dance

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Mozart loved to dance, and it is hard not to find a dance theme in his music. So it is appropriate that Lutoslawksi’s Dance Preludes figures as an introduction to the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, which follows. Principal Clarinet Scott Andrews, who solos in the Lutoslawski, shares insights into the work in this week’s video blog.

Almost Dancing

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Scott Andrews rehearsed the rocking, jaunty, bluesy, jazzy Lutoslawski Dance Preludes with David Robertson and the orchestra on Thursday afternoon. Scott told me it’s music that feels like the dance is just about to happen–a perfect concert opening, especially with Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, played by Richard Goode, right after.

Scott Andrews

Scott Andrews

Secrets to a Lasting Musical Marriage

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Carson, ChrisBloom, Debbie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second violinist Deborah Bloom and double bassist Chris Carson have been in the orchestra together for 41 seasons. Debbie started a year before Chris. They’ve been married that whole time too, and after two grown children and one new grandson later, I asked Debbie if she had advice for other married couples in the orchestra. Debbie and Chris been going to work together and working for the same company and in the same office–the Powell Hall stage–since the mid-’70s. How have they made it work?

“It helps if you can be across the stage from each other,” Debbie suggests. “Try to work that out.”

 

 

 

 

Live Rehearsal Tweet

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During the shooting of a recent video blog, I was on stage while David Robertson and the orchestra rehearsed Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. It was a remarkable experience, with the St. Louis Symphony in full-throated power and Robertson’s palpable of intensity sending force fields of inspiration all over the place.

David Robertson sends force fields of inspiration all about.

David Robertson sends force fields of inspiration all about.

I thought, “What a lucky guy am I.” Then I thought, “What are other ways in which I could share this experience with others?”  I’m a word guy, so the first thing I thought was words. I’m barely a 21st century guy, so I next thought of a live Twitter feed–my experiences sent out to the Twitter masses as I am living them.

It’s so crazy we’re going to do it. I’ll be tweeting live via Symphony Twitter from the first rehearsal of Beethoven’s Mass in C, with orchestra and chorus combined, Robertson on the podium. I’ll tell you what’s going on and dropping some photos in as well. Wednesday, 6:45-8pm, January 21. Further details to come. Force fields of inspiration coming at you next Wednesday night.

Top Billing

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As part of my survey of the “inner voices” of the orchestra, the violas were essential. Associate Principal Kathleen Mattis put the essence of viola neglect in a nutshell: “Whenever violas have the melody, everyone looks over in amazement.”

But she also told me that it’s gotten better for violas. First, they already had Mozart and Beethoven giving them important parts. Then Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Stravinsky gave them greater independence. She told me contemporary composers write “the viola part sometimes longer than the violin.”

Walter Matthau, the viola of actors

Walter Matthau, the viola of actors

It made me think of the viola as the Walter Matthau of instruments, beginning in supporting roles, then getting top billing later on. And he didn’t have to change a thing.

One Note

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More from my discussions with musicians who are the “inner voices,” or play in supporting roles in the orchestra. This from Jennifer Nitchman, who plays with Principal Mark Sparks and Associate Principal Andrea Kaplan in the flute section. “My job is to make Mark and Andrea sound as good as they can. For example, when they stop to take a breath, I may play louder for that one note, as loud as if they were both playing. Then I immediately go back to blending with them on the next note.”

 

Jennifer Nitchman and Mark Sparks

Jennifer Nitchman and Mark Sparks