Tonight we had a short road trip to start our new series at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, PA. Last night’s concert at Heinz Hall had the same 1st half as tonight’s did, but instead of the second half consisting of Shostakovich 5, it was Beethoven 7. With Friday the 13th coming up next week, maybe it was the full moon that gave this weekend’s concerts their driving energy. Actually tonight’s moon had a little flat side to it, there was something other-worldly about it as it blazed through the steam from the cooling towers of the nuclear plant in Shippingport…..almost as though you were seeing it through foggy glass.
The concert site tonight is a brand new facility that is also a
performing arts school. The hall is fairly dry acoustically, but it
seems good for hearing other distant instrument groups, which makes it
easier to make entrances confidently. In many halls it’s difficult to
judge when to place attacks. During those performances my personal
saving grace is the terrific rhythm and confidence around me with my
section-mates, Tim Adams (our principal tympanist), and the winds right
in front of us. That is a big group of sure-footed players and it
really makes it easy to know where to play. I really have a great
seat…….right in the middle of it all.
The conductor this week is Vassily Sinaisky. He seems to be
enjoying himself and it is contagious. The Bolt ballet suite
(Shostakovich) was a nice surprise. I’ve never played the work and it
was fun, full of character and cheeky charm. Tonight the Beethoven
(which we rehearsed on Tuesday afternoon) was pretty tight (in the good
way) and at the same time loose (in the good way). I think that
sometimes a piece that is under rehearsed comes alive in the moment.
This orchestra is great at performing pieces with very little
rehearsal, especially under a conductor that trusts us. There’s so
much potential at a conductor’s fingertips. The trick is not to kill
it. This guy did a good job of meticulously rehearsing us (in all the
Shostakovich works) and then letting the performance happen. He was
terrific at bringing out the different moods in the music he was
Next week we play pops with Marvin……I think it’s with the Platters! That should be a blast from the past.