Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian plays bass in an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Week 45 Ravinia 03

A
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
INTERMISSION
MAHLER Symphony No. 7
James Conlon conductor
Sarah Chang violin

B
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major, (Symphony of a Thousand)
James Conlon conductor
[Redacted] Symphony Chorus
Chicago Children’s Choir
Milwaukee Symphony Chorus

C
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
INTERMISSION
DVORÁK Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Op. 70
James Conlon conductor
Jorge Federico Osorio piano

Monday
off

Tuesday
11-1:30 rehearsal

Wednesday
2:30-5 rehearsal
8 concert (A)

Thursday
11-1:30 2:30-5 rehearsals

Friday
off

Saturday
2-4:30 rehearsal
7:30 concert (B)

Sunday
12-3 rehearsal
5 concert (C)

Last week ran the gamut. Haitink and Lang Lang – it’s hard to think of them as part of the same profession.

Haitink’s Mahler 6, excellent as it was, served more to bring to mind the sort of performances we used to give here regularly. Kudos to Andrew Patner for making the same point with more eloquence.

Apparently the Gala concert went beautifully, not to mention on time and on budget, a healthy change from the not so distant past.

The Sunday concert was a weird amalgamation of the Schreker Chamber Symphony, part of Conlon’s earnest Breaking the Silence series, and Lang Lang playing a couple of warhorses, the entire lurid spectacle projected onto huge screens. As my attention inevitably wandered, I caught sight of audience members in the center section craning their necks to look at the screens rather than focusing on the stage straight ahead.

The high point of the week had to come during rehearsals for the Schrecker, when a colleague, asking for an emphatic cutoff from Conlon, made an unfortunate word choice and instead asked the Maestro if he could ‘whack us off’. Fortunately that sort of thing doesn’t happen too often.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's in a name?

I have a much uglier word for it, Sir: Misappropriation.
-Waylon Smithers

Here’s an interesting excerpt from our contract.

Section 25.18 CSO Name.

(a)

The designation “Chicago Symphony”, “Chicago Symphony Orchestra”, “Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra”, “CSO”, or any similar designation may not be used by any Member or Members unless in connection with an event under the auspices of the Association or any subcontractor of the Association or unless to identify a recognized ensemble existing as of September 17, 1979, which has been using such designation. Any unauthorized use will be resisted by the Association.

I wonder if anyone on our players’ committee has seen this:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Week 44 Ravinia 02

A
Mahler Symphony No. 6 in A Minor
Bernard Haitink conductor

B
Gala Benefit Evening
Schreker Intermezzo
R. Strauss Morgen, Op. 27, No. 4
R. Strauss Ständchen from Sechs Lieder Op. 17
R. Strauss Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1 Canteloube
Three selections from Chants d’Auvergne
Canteloube Bailero
Canteloube La Delaissado
Canteloube Lo Fiolaire
Puccini Two selections from La bohème
Puccini Si, mi chiamano Mimì
Puccini Donde lieta usci
Cilea “Io son l’umile ancella” from Adriana Lecouvreur
Kiri Te Kanawa soprano
James Conlon conductor

C
Schreker Chamber Symphony
Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue
Chopin Andante Spianato in G Major, Op. 22
Chopin Grand Polonaise in E-flat Major, Op. 22
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Lang Lang piano
James Conlon conductor

Monday
off

Tuesday
11-1:30 rehearsal

Wednesday
2:30-5 rehearsal
8 concert (A)

Thursday
11-1:30 rehearsal

Friday
off

Saturday
1:30-4 rehearsal
7 concert (B)

Sunday
12:30-3
5 concert (C)

Beethoven 7 (last week) and Mahler 6 (this week) were both performed at Orchestra Hall during the 2007-2008 season - the Haitink/Mahler 6 is an exact repeat (same piece/same conductor). Come to think of it, we played Mahler 6 with Conlon at Ravinia last summer as well, so it is hard to say who is copying whom. Sometimes I wish the two organizations were a little (more) cooperative.

I do feel sorry for Haitink though. The forecast calls for 93 degrees on Wednesday. Amsterdam is expecting a high of 65.

Last year the Ravinia management exhibited a great deal of paranoid preoccupation with the 17-year cicadas. But if you take a look at their website, the background image looks suspiciously like a blue swarm of winged insects. Every time you navigate from one page to another, the swarm takes over for an instant, only to be overwritten by Ravinia content – but the bugs are still there underneath, silently waiting for another 16 years.

Fortunately, I have the Gala (Saturday) off this year. Although the program doesn’t look all that bad, galas still drive me nuts with all the speeches, curtain calls, flowers, encores and whatnot. The only thing I’ll miss will be the annual overtime bonanza.

The two hour interval between rehearsal and concert (rather than the usual three) on Sunday is certainly a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Week 43 – Ravinia 01

program A
SMITH The Star-Spangled Banner
ENESCU Romanian Rhapsody in A Major, Op. 11, No. 1
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
INTERMISSION
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
Leonard Slatkin conductor
Joshua Bell violin

program B
RACHMANINOV Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
RACHMANINOV Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
INTERMISSION
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Leonard Slatkin conductor
Denis Matsuev piano

Monday
off

Tuesday
11-1:30 2:30-5 rehearsals

Wednesday
2:30-5 rehearsal
8 concert (A)

Thursday
2:30-5 rehearsal
8 concert (B)

Friday
off

Saturday
off

Sunday
off

This is where the pro forma statement about how nice it is to be back belongs.

Welz Kaufman’s welcoming remarks to the orchestra were brief enough that anyone blinking (or stifling a yawn) surely missed them. He left the official pleasantries to the chairperson of the Ravinia board who greeted us graciously. The usual offering of cake prompted the usual grumbling about the quality of the cake. Apparently in the ‘old days’ even free cake tasted better than it does today.

Once again, the white jacket failed to make it to the cleaners before the start of Ravinia. Its predecessor was discarded after two decades of similar shameful neglect. In fact, ‘white’ doesn’t really do justice to the color of that garment, which by the end of its useful life took on the color (and more alarmingly, the texture) of a slice of Wonder Bread snatched from the toaster after about 30 seconds. As always, the plan to play the entire summer in the same (allegedly) white shirt is in effect, but the ever-shrinking Ravinia season makes this hardly an accomplishment worth boasting about any more.