Thursday, April 7, 2011

MN Orchestra Concert Part 2

Lamb 1 and Ewe arrived a few minutes before "the talk" was scheduled. I was surprised the box office was not open to get our tickets. They encouraged us to go listen to the talk and get our tickets afterwards.
The talk was by the principal french horn player, Michael Gast, that had a solo in the concert. I found it very interesting, Lamb 1 tolerated it, but was anxious for the concert. Gast started playing in 6th grade band (I was surprised not 4th grade) and switched to french horn in high school for a challenge. He went to college not sure if he should do oceanography or orchestra. He chose orchestra after deciding he didn't want to take the science classes in oceanography. He really didn't understand how competitive orchestra was when he made that choice. He played a few years in various places after being blessed to study with some great people. On his 26th audition he made it into the MN Orchestra. He said it really is where there is an opening and if you happen to play your best on audition day. He has been with MN Orchestra for 28 years. He said he played this same solo piece in 1993 and looking back he was not musically prepared to play this difficult piece then, but over the years he has improved and he was ready for this concert. He recommended an excellent book, but I didn't catch the title and I'll have to try to track down the title. He said he practices at least 2 40 minute periods a day plus 4-5 rehearsals a week plus 2-3 concerts a week. He said they get the music 4-6 weeks ahead of time. They are expected to know the pieces before rehearsal-there is no sightreading at this level. Almost everyone in the orchestra has tenure, but not being prepared could jeopardize that tenure. The talk was very interesting. They said they often have these talks before concerts.
Then there was over a half an hour until the concert. They served coffee and water. I don't like coffee. We were hoping there would be cookies or something but there wasn't. We were 45 minutes from home so we didn't know anyone to talk to. It was a long wait until the concert and during intermission.
We didn't have good seats-Ram had ordered them and didn't know anything about ordering seats for a concert, plus we ordered them late. We were on the left side in the front. All we could see is violins and bass violins and I could see the cymbals, but Lamb 1 couldn't even when I held him on my lap. Lamb 1 wants to play the harp (partly because he heard one of my college friends has a daughter that plays the harp) and he couldn't see the harp. We went up to see the harp during intermission and they had taken it off stage for the last piece. We could see the conductor well so I encouraged Lamb 1 to watch the conductor. Some ladies sitting one row behind me were talking about how lucky they were to have such great seats-they didn't get the concept of being able to see the whole orchestra and hear it too. The auditorium was very small-they had to get a grant to get new curtains to make the stage bigger to have room for the MN Orchestra.
They played Wagner and then Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major for horn and orchestra by Strauss. After intermission they played Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Opus 74. I was surprised by the ending to Tchaikovsky's piece-after a lively movement that I assumed was the finale, the last movement was quiet. The audience wasn't sure if the orchestra was done and when to clap at the very end of the concert! Lamb 1 did great listening until the very last movement of the concert-he was tired and it was a quiet piece. He made it though.
The associate conductor, Courtney Lewis, was very young. I heard several audience members talking about how young he was. It was fascinating to watch him conduct the Tchaikovsky piece without a score in front of him-that was a long piece to have memorized. He did a fantastic job.
After the concert I took Lamb 1 to Dairy Queen for hot fudge sundaes. The next morning he had more to tell his brothers about going to DQ than the concert! He fell asleep on the drive home.
Tomorrow I have a short interview with Lamb 1 about the concert to post.

1 comment:

Dakotapam said...

I'll have to share this with William. He's in his second year of playing French Horn. He started in 5th grade. This year though, 5th grade band has been cut from the budget so younger kids won't start an instrument until 6th grade, which is harder on middle school band teachers. He likes the horn but is very challenged by it and I'm sure does not practice enough.