Monday, February 19, 2007

sightreading Strauss and burning bridges

Then came a passage from the last page of Strauss's tone poem "Don Juan." He had never seen it before, but he plowed through and nailed it. The audition was over. A laconic voice said, "Thank you."

- Daniel J. Wakin, "The Face-the-Music Academy"

Randy Wong, a fellow bassist who also studied at New England Conservatory, asked what this mysterious Don Juan sight-reading might have been. It was the passage from 4 measures before X to 2 after Y - hopefully I'm not violating any copyright restrictions by photographing the excerpt here:

I've played Don Juan several times - and the excerpt was specifically included in the Buffalo list - so obviously "He had never seen it before" is an exaggeration. Sometimes when you go on stage it feels like you've never seen the music before, but I really wasn't all that unprepared! I think what I more likely told Dan Wakin was that I had never played it before in an audition. So I was proud to have played it well - even though I wasn't quite sightreading.

It occurs to me that people in Buffalo are going to be reading this article, too - and hopefully won't be too upset by what I said about their Neil Sedaka program ("too uninspiring") or the upkeep of their hall ("Earplugs from a previous concert littered the stage"). Honestly, it wasn't like piles of earplugs - maybe just one or two pairs, and some wrappers. Dan Wakin asked me to tell him everything I remembered seeing on stage - obviously looking for some detail and color - and those were among the few things that stuck in my mind!

The Buffalo Philharmonic has a beautiful old hall - Kleinhans Music Hall - though all the pictures I found on their website seem to have been removed. Shown above is an outside view of the hall courtesy of Wikipedia's article on Kleinhans.

I assume they will also have another bass audition, since as Dan Wakin mentions, Scott Dixon (another New World alumnus) won the principal bass job only to win another job, in the Cleveland Orchestra, two months later. Which is why I hope I haven't burnt any bridges in Buffalo.

So if you happen to be reading this, Buffalo Phil members, patrons, audition committee, Neil Sedaka enthusiasts, et al. - no offense intended! You guys rock!

1 comment:

Randy said...

Hey Matt,

Thanks for gettin back to me about Don Juan!! You're awesome!