Saturday, August 06, 2005

playing with the Cleveland Orchestra

This weekend my colleagues in the Kent/Blossom program and I get to play with the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of Jahja Ling. We had a rehearsal on Thursday in Severance Hall, and all the orchestra members were very welcoming. One of the violinists, Erich Eicchorn, even found me at the break and complimented our Hummel last Tuesday!

another look at the Cleveland Orchestra's Severance Hall Posted by Picasa

I sat right in the middle of the bass section, between Kevin Switalski and Scott Haigh, the two assistant principals; Max Dimoff, the principal bass, is playing the Koussevitzky Concerto tomorrow, so he'll sit out the rest of the program. The bass players introduced themselves and asked questions about me, as well as letting me in on some of their inside jokes. It was altogether a really friendly, relaxed vibe, though at one point there was something that wasn't together with the horns and cellos, and everyone suddenly got very intense for a moment, trying to solve the problem. It struck me as an orchestra full of people who enjoy themselves when they play, but also take their music-making very seriously.

I was reminded of my first time hearing the Cleveland Orchestra, when they toured to Chicago in October 2002. It was one of the most powerful concerts I have ever attended - I was so entranced by their performance of Shostakovich's 8th Symphony, I barely registered what was happening when a man two seats down collapsed and had to be carried out in a stretcher. I didn't find out until a few days later that he had died.

Somehow the combination music and mortality that night left me intensely moved. I went upstairs in Orchestra Hall after the concert and locked myself in a bass storage room, where I practiced in the dark until 2 am, trying to recapture some of the sounds still resonating in my memory. I had a Civic Orchestra rehearsal there the next morning, and I thought about just staying through the night, but I decided that was a little overly fanatical so I took the 'L' home.

I'm not expecting anything quite so cathartic or deadly when we play Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol andl de Falla's Suite from The Three-Cornered Hat tomorrow evening. Still, it will be more than a little bit exciting to share a stage with such an incredible group of musicians!

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