Bass Blog

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

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Friday, December 04, 2009

If I were a rich man

November 27-29

ADDINSELL Prelude from Blithe Spirit'
ARNOLD Excerpts from The Bridge on the River Kwai'
JARRE Excerpts from A Passage to India
BAX Three Pieces from Oliver Twist
JARRE Excerpts from Dr. Zhivago
JARRE Excerpts from Lawrence of Arabia
----INTERMISSION----
WILLIAMS The Magic of Harry Potter
Holland Taylor, Narrator
WILLIAMS Flying Theme from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (encore)
WILLIAMS Marion's Theme from Raiders Of The Lost Ark (encore)
WILLIAMS Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme) from The Empire Strikes Back (Star Wars Episode V) (encore)
WILLIAMS Wide Receiver , (Theme from NBC Football) (encore)
John Williams, Conductor
Michael York, Narrator
Holland Taylor, Narrator

Well, we went from an unflinchingly rude conductor to an unfailingly polite one. The orchestra always seems a bit cowed by John Williams and he responds with the utmost cordiality. You might chalk it up to to celebrity, but I think a large part of it has to do with his net worth – inside every orchestra musician is a petit bourgeois struggling to get out. If these concerts had been conducted by a lowly assistant conductor from somewhere, the usual sort of sacrificial lamb brought in to lead a pops show, after four rehearsals things might have turned quite ugly. As it was, we never strayed far from appearing to be in a mutual love-fest with our conductor of the week. I'm not sure it is possible to convey how unusual that is. The autograph seekers waiting in the alley after the show added to oddity of the whole thing, as was having the audience immediately recognize (and enjoy) the music we played for them.

3 comments:

Lisa Hirsch said...

I have to admit, I usually avoid anything that looks like a pops concert, but I'd play folding money to hear the CSO brass in some of that music. Not to mention, if I ever knew that Malcolm Arnold write the music for Bridge on the River Kwai, I'd forgotten it.

Brad said...

The Williams concerts are always wonderful events. He's written such an astonishing volume of memorable, classic film scores, and he adds to that a sense of charm and warmth as a conductor. There's always a buzz in the audience, a sense of occasion about his appearances. It was entertaining, as well as impressive, to hear the orchestra playing live (and so well synched) with the film sequences on screen above. I couldn't help but marvel at how confident and lustrous the orchestra sounded in performing music that it likely doesn't have on the collective mind very often.

max said...

Our old colleague Dick Kantor (now contentedly retired from his oboe work) was fond of saying that the CSO musicians had two things to say when John Williams was in town conducting us.
1: "How inexcusable that we have to demean ourselves playing this crass movie music--it is SO beneath our dignity!"
2: "Can I get some tickets for my family?"