I imagine that there are a lot of people in the
orchestra that are particularly busy these days, but I know for a fact
that the horn section is working overtime.
Today for example we began our day in the usual
manner with a rehearsal beginning at 10am. We started out with the
Hindemith. I think that Hindemith has as identifiable a style as any
composer there is. His sonorities are angular and solid without losing
track of melodic lines. He writes quintessentially idiomatic parts. I’m
not sure for other instrument families, but for horn he stays in tried
and true registers and dynamics…..this piece is no exception. Lots of
blowing and long lines (especially in the last movement, a
passacaglia). The next piece on the rehearsal this morning was La Mer.
It’s not as physically demanding a piece as the Hindemith, but
Tortelier’s rehearsal technique involves playing taxing sections
several times in succession……it adds up. The end of the first
rehearsal came and some Debussy was left for after lunch along with all
of the Flying Dutchman and the Mozart Violin Concerto.
The horn section has been preparing for a few extra things recently.
During this lunch break was our opportunity to work out which
repertoire to choose for the section playing our audition finalists
would have to do in the audition process. This involved us lining up
lots of big horn repertoire and playing through different sections to
see if they would be appropriate for showing what a candidate can do,
or whether they weren’t so definitive. The other reason we do this is
to play together as a section the music the audition candidate will
have to play to make sure that any problems that arise in the audition
aren’t caused by us. The last thing you want is to rehearse in an
audition, this way we’re making sure that the scene around the
candidate is set and ready for occupancy. We did this with Bill playing
lead today. We all ended up saying, "that’s pretty darn
good…….let’s hire HIM!!" I’d list the repertoire we played through
to emphasize what a pile of music it was, but (in the words of Dana
Carvey playing G H W Bush)….."it wouldn’t be prudent". Suffice it to
say our chops didn’t get the usual break at lunch time. Then we all
went back in to the hall and rehearsed the rest of La Mer, then on to
Wagner and then Mozart (which THANK GOD, Zach is playing 2nd horn on).
My face is toast (and I’m a low-horn player).
It seems that every break this week and next will be filled with
planning and rehearsals. The horn section is involved in a project
called The Horn Effect,
through the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society. They commissioned a work
to be composed for our section (as soloists) with horn ensemble
accompaniment. As is typical of many creative endeavors, the timetable
for the composition got sidetracked. This makes it all the more
challenging because the ensemble is to be made up of amateur players
from the local and regional area and were expecting to download parts
from a website in order to practice the new composition before the
actual date of the rehearsal/workshop/performance. The PSO horn section
will be finding time to rehearse that piece in the next week or so to
be ahead of the game on that. As part of the day’s events during the
"Horn Effect", we will be presenting a small concert and doing
masterclasses as well.
Another little event that Bill and I are participating in is a
"Music 101" presentation for a group of people between rehearsals
sometime soon (I don’t have my schedule book right in front of me).
That will involve playing through some of the more famous horn duets
from the symphonic literature, and some other duets that we decide on.
We’ll cover the subject of horns in the orchestra in a very light and
casual manner and have a dialog with our audience…..something I
always enjoy because it really personalizes the orchestra, and give us
musicians a sense of connection with our audience.
When I look back and read this it seems overwhelming (I didn’t even
write about the three solid days of horn auditions that we’ll be
hearing starting Sunday), but really I’m looking forward to every bit
of it. Playing music with my colleagues in the PSO is a privilege and a
great pleasure……the more I get to do, the more fun it is. One day
at a time……bring it on.