Posted tagged ‘orchestra’

When the soloist stuffs up!

November 16, 2013

ImageI was recently invited to play in a local orchestra as an extra for an upcoming concert. Living where I do usually means I don’t get to play with orchestras very often, so I was quite thrilled at the opportunity.

One of the pieces we were to play was Beethoven’s Egmont Overture which is quite a rousing piece and lots of fun to play. There were a couple of other Mozart pieces and the Haydn Violin Concerto in G major. I had played this as a student so knew it quite well.

I was able to attend at least two rehearsals but not the final one. However, this did not worry me in the least. The music was very playable and I was looking forward to the concert.

Everything was running according to plan until the final movement of the Haydn concerto. It was sometime after the cadenza and before the final tutti that the soloist suddenly appeared to be out of sync with the orchestra! While continuing to play I tried to work out where we should be. I think most the violin section was doing the same thing! It became apparent that the soloist was a bar behind the orchestra. I assume he just repeated a bar – not recommended when playing with 40-50 other musicians! I’m not sure what was going through the conductors mind. He just kept on beating time!

The violins were able to get it together reasonably quickly, but unfortunately the cellos persisted and were a whole bar ahead right up to the tutti! I can only imagine what it sounded like to the audience. My husband who is a singer and not familiar with the piece said it sounded odd, but he had no idea what had happened until I told him.

We can laugh about it now, but it was a rather nerve-wracking at the time!


Tasmania Discovery Orchestra Meets Stephen Schwartz

June 22, 2010

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of playing with the Tasmania Discovery Orchestra in  An Evening with Stephen Schwartz as part of the Festival of Broadway.

The Tasmania Discovery Orchestra (TDO) is an initiative of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music and came into being in March of this year. It is an orchestra designed to offer musicians with advanced orchestral instrument skills the opportunity to come together and make great music in Hobart, Tasmania. Entry is by audition.

Stephen-SchwartzThe rehearsal arrangement is designed to encourage interstate players and so is quite compact.  We had five rehearsals: two on Thursday, two on Friday, and one on Saturday, followed by the concert.

Stephen Schwartz is an extremely talented musician and lyricist. It was a delight to see and hear him,  both in interview and performing. The interviewer for the night was Michael A Kerker, the Director of Musical Theatre for ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). 

Schwartz’ description of the writing process was quite illuminating. It is very easy to have the impression that composers or lyricists sit down and just write what comes to them in an unending flow.  This idea was soon corrected as Schwartz told of many incidences of having to write and re-write until he was satisfied with the end result.

Later on he played a piece he had re-worked, in its original form, at the piano. He then went on to play the second re-write and finally the third, explaining along the way his reasoning for changing the lyrics and the eventual title of the song.  All this was done completely without written music!

Soloists at the concert included some absolutely amazing singers: Liz Callaway, Michael Rose, Silvie Paladino, Adrian Li Donni, Ben Davidson, Julie O’Reilly and Michael Lampard. Musical numbers were from Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, Children of Eden, The Baker’s Wife, Rags and Wicked.

The first Australian performance of two excerpts from Schwartz’ first opera, Séance On A Wet Afternoon, were also performed by Julie O’Reilly and Ben Davidson. The opera premiered at the Opera Santa Barbara late last year and will be performed  in Australia in 2011.

All in all, it was a most enjoyable evening and a thrill to be in the orchestra for such a pleasurable event.

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