Monday, November 17, 2008

Now playing...

Often I'm asked if I listen to a recording of a piece in preparation to play it. The answer is yes, sometimes. If I'm not familiar with a piece I like to listen to a recording of it to make my at-home preparation easier. Hearing all the parts together helps to put my single part into perspective. A complicated passage where my section is playing alone requires different attention than a complicated passage where the entire orchestra is playing as loud as possible. However, if a piece is a familiar warhorse, such as our upcoming performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, I might listen to a recording once or twice, but I generally leave it at that. Everyone has an opinion about how these pieces should be played. My job is to follow Lucas' direction to bring his interpretation to life. For me, too much listening clouds my ability to do that.

Although my colleagues and I are not always listening to the repertoire we are currently playing, we do listen to a lot of music. So, what are we listening to? I decided to ask a few of my friends in the orchestra what music they are listening to the most right now.

Katy Gawne (yours truly), principal violist:
We have a deep love of vinyl at our house, so most of what I'm listening to right now are old recordings.
Violinist Fritz Kreisler playing pieces by, well, Fritz Kreisler
Benny Goodman: Sing Sing Sing (big band)
The Best of Ted Hawkins. (blues)

Jen Bloch, violist:
The soundtrack to Farinelli (Farinelli was the most famous castrato singer ever. The soundtrack blends two voices to achieve the striking and now long-lost sound of the castrato singer.)
Sting – Brave New Day
Edgar Meyer – Appalachian Waltz

Cathy Leach, principal trumpet:
Violinist Hillary Hahn playing the Sibelius violin concerto
The soundtrack to the musical “Avenue Q”

Lisa Muci, violin and Eunsoon Corliss, assistant principal viola:
folk music from Persia, Africa, and Iran
The soundtrack from the musical “Chicago”

Jill Allard, second flute:
The Weepies (acoustic folk rock)

Jim Fellenbaum, resident conductor:
The Nutcracker
Four Scottish Dances by Malcolm Arnold
Street Scene by Kurt Weill

The musicians I talked with were excited about what they were listening to. Eunsoon actually sang one of the Iranian folk songs for me that she is arranging for string quartet and Jill ran and got her ipod so that I could listen to the Weepies myself. I am excited because now I have a long list of music to seek out and enjoy. I hope that you got some ideas for new tunes, too.

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