Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian formerly played bass with an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Week 20

Ars Viva
Beethoven Creatures of Prometheus
Corigliano Elegy (for Samuel Barber)
Barber Violin Concerto
Beethoven Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”)
Alan Heatherington, conductor
Ilya Kaler, violin

The other orchestra
BERIO Quatre dédicaces
BERLIOZ Les nuits d'été
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano

9:30, 10:30, 12:30, 1:30
In-school concerts

10-12:30 rehearsal

12-2:30 3:30-5:30 rehearsals

10-12:30 rehearsal
8 concert

3-6 Ars Viva rehearsal
8 concert

3-6 Ars Viva rehearsal
8 concert

2-5 Ars Viva rehearsal
7:30 Ars viva concert

Boulez returns this week with a classic sort of Boulezian program. (Sorry if that sounds either Armenian or, to quote the Maestro himself, ‘deliciously wrong’.) I admit to a slightly irrational fondness for Boulez. He seems to enjoy a pretty good rapport with the orchestra, so maybe I’m not alone. Among my favorite things about him are some of the faces he makes when things are not going quite according to plan. For some reason, he had plenty of opportunities to use them during our read through of Petrushka on Tuesday. Anyhow, the face I enjoy most has to be the look he sometimes gives the orchestra, I imagine exactly like a man discovering his pate de foie gras had been switched with a small scoop of merde. I can honestly say I enjoy that look as much when it is directed at my own section as any other, perhaps more.

Boulez also has a charmingly offhand way of dismissing the sort of know-it-all questions from players that tend to crop up when a so-called ‘important’ conductor takes the podium. For the uninitiated, those "teacher’s pet isms" tend to follow the format of: “Maestro, would you like us to…” or “Do we have…” followed by something obviously not in the score. Ever the literalist, Boulez leafs through the score, shrugs, and gives the inevitable negative response. That particular ritual has been going on for years.


Friar Tuck said...

That's a great story about the players and Boulez. I'm have to share that with folks here.

Juni said...


The roster of Ars Viva is intereting!
Mostly The Famous Midwest Orchestra, isn't it?

Some former members of the midwest orchestra are also there.

I believe that the sound quality of Ars Viva might be closer the "past" midwest orchestra.