What I’m researching this week March 27

Under 3 minute read

I have the privilege of playing with the Lehigh philharmonic orchestra. It’s a great group of dedicated students; many who are not music majors, but quite passionate about playing classical music. There’s also a number of community players. This is a mix of studio teachers on various instruments, and other avocational musicians. The group is led by a wonderful musician, Eugene Albulescu. We play substantial masterworks, and have had some outstanding soloists.

The next program we will be performing will include Mozart’s Overture to The Magic Flute, Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, and Holst, The Planets. We only rehearse as a group one night a week. I believe most of our challenges come from retention, more than individual woodshedding.

We are encouraged to listen to recordings while following our parts in between rehearsals. To encourage students listening, the director provides links to YouTube videos of performances in emails. I prefer listening to my own CDs or vinyl if I have it, while following a full score. It’s a throwback to my conducting studies. Access to university resources were reduced when my full time administrative position was eliminated to budget cuts. But at least I still have access to the library. Following a score helps me learn more about the piece; the harmonies and the orchestration.

The Mozart is still in my fingers, so I’m not too worried about that piece. The Holst will take a fair amount of section work to sharpen the rhythms. The Lutoslowski is quite a difference story. The notation is very different for all of the musicians. It’s sometimes described as “controlled chaos.” The soloist, Christopher Gross (the Horger ’61 Artist in Residence this year) ran a very interesting session during the rehearsal before spring break. Without sharing any details, he gave us an introduction to the piece that simultaneously covered interpretation and individual approach to the ensemble aspects. It was quite a lovely experience.

Other things I’m researching for the weekend of live performances:
1. Anything Goes – musical
2. Oklahoma – musical
3. Mary Poppins – musical
For each production, I like to listen to a cast album and familiarize myself with characters and plot lines before I see a high school production. YouTube or Spotify is where I look for these. I do not own a vast collection of broadway musical albums.

I find that when I prepare ahead, the other details of scenery, costumes, orchestra, dialogue get more of my attention. This gives me a fuller experience in enjoying the work these kids and their directors put into the production.

Side note: I do like adding an audio version of the blog. I’m just coming out of another sinus issue, so you may be hearing a bit of the Snuffleupagus.

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