Bowings... They’re up, they’re down; they’re slurred, they’re separate; they’re hooked, they’re “as it comes” (AIC). The “paper-pushing” part of my job is upon me, choreographing everything so that all of our section is moving in symmetry (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) with the other string sections of the orchestra. But... they’re here, which means that the 2011-2012 season is right around the corner!
The string principals, Katy Gawne, Edward Pulgar Steve Benne and I, get ahold of copies of parts that have been “bowed” by Gabe Lefkowitz. To the extent that is practical, we mark bowings that follow his lead and cause the sound to be shaped the way it should. There is a lot to consider. Will there be enough bow to get the right volume of sound in a particular phrase? Is everyone in my section capable of doing these bowings, if they are out of the ordinary? Have I put the same bowings at the end of the piece that match the analogous spot earlier in the movement? Does it really matter? (YEEESSSSS)!!!!! Will Katy, Steve and Edward guess the same way when it comes to things we have that Gabe doesn’t, or do we need a Skype date to figure it out?
When I sat in the section (rank-and-file), this wasn’t my responsibility, and I had no control over such matters. I would suggest things, but there’s a fine line between suggesting and pestering. As a section leader I am amenable to suggestions, as my predecessors were. Some changes are inevitable anyway; when we get to the first rehearsal and find that the tempo is much different than we thought, or just plain incorrect in the part, we are thankful that we can tweak things a bit to make our lives easier. By the final rehearsal though, everything needs to be just so for the next night’s show. YouTube videos help, as do memories of previous performances.
The Beethoven Eroica Symphony that anchors this season’s opening concert also opened the 1988-1989 season. Those concerts, some 23 years ago, represent the only KSO concerts that I have had to miss due to an injury, a woodworking mishap that involved stitches on my left hand. Luckily I can spare you the details because it was so long ago that I don’t even remember how it happened. Rest assured... I have no woodworking projects on the docket at this time.