October 20 Orchestra Notes

October 22, 2012

Our first performance is now less than four weeks away. On Saturday we ran through all our pieces, in performance order, to assess where we were at and what needs the most focus in the remaining time. Next weekend, starting on Friday evening, we have a weekend long retreat with four rehearsals, and audition taping session, and a miniature performance. The first Saturday in November, the 3rd, is a day off, then we have two more rehearsals before the performances on the 17th and 19th.

Of the eight pieces on our program there are four I feel I can play all the way through at performance tempo. One more piece might be up to performance tempo in another three weeks. The remaining three pieces I'll contribute toward.

Brook Green Suite

Our opening piece is one I can contribute toward. I can play the entire first movement. I'm mostly through the second movement, and still struggling with the third movement. With concentrated effort this piece might move to the "can play" column. However, I can't stop working on the pieces already in the "can play" state, else they slip and suffer.

Saber Dance

With the exception of two measures toward the very end of the piece, I can play this at our performance tempo of quarter note equals 160. I am surprised and pleased that this piece is in my "can play" column.

Concerto Grosso

The Vivaldi is a beautiful piece. Unfortunately it is just beyond my technical grasp. I can play it at half speed but I've not had much luck speeding it up. Through this piece I've discovered that I have too my tension in my left hand, hindering its ability to rapidly move. Also, the coordination between bowing direction changes and finger movements at higher tempos starts to breakdown. This breakdown results in a muddy, stuttering sound that is not musical. I'll contribute where I can. There is a slow passage in the piece that I can play.

Adagio for Strings

My intonation is vastly improved on this piece. I have it in my "can play" column and it is one of the pieces I need to continue to work on daily in order to have it nicely polished by our concert dates. Between the need for accurate counting on the double whole notes and dotted half notes in the first half, and the need for accurate intonation throughout (especially on the very high notes in the middle of the second page), this piece requires constant renewal and attention.

Vier Kliene Stucke

We are heavily editing this piece, playing the opening theme, and just two of four variations, followed by a truncated reading of the Furiant movement. I can play the Furiant movement, and I can play the opening theme. The first variation I'll play just the bottom notes as the pizzicato pace for octaves is a bit too fast for my ability. The second variation is well beyond my ability so I'll just play the accent notes and try not to look like a complete fool.

Revenge of the Red Pepper

This piece is in the "can play" set. There's a lot of rapid pizzicato work, but the pattern repeats making it easier to play. David altered the fingering for the racy arco bits making it much easier to play.

Over the Rainbow

Easily my favorite piece on this program, Rainbow is also the only piece that I've had initialed as completed. Not only can I play this piece, I can play it with emotion.

An English Suite

I've had the music for English Suite since mid-June. I can now play the entire first movement at about half tempo. We eliminated the second, Minuet, movement. I cannot, yet, play all of the third movement at any pace. I will be contributing very little to this piece. It just moves too fast for me. It is hard not to be embarrassed sitting and not doing anything much while the rest of the orchestra plays this piece.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.