OSO Classical Series B – Concert 1

This got buried amidst all of the intervening news of last week, and I thought that those of you who are coming to the concerts this weekend might be interested in doing some advance listening in preparation for the concert experience. So pardon the duplication of posts.

This year I’ve decided to add a new feature to the blog for Oregon Symphony concertgoers: the iMix. An iMix is a published playlist of songs from iTunes gathered into a central location. For each Classical series concert, I’ll be publishing a iMix of the works on the program, all of which are recordings recommended by myself. Sounds good? Ok – here’s the first iMix. This one covers the upcoming Classical 2 concerts on October 13-15, 2007. The works featured are Luciano Berio’s Folksongs for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (here heard in its chamber version for seven instruments), Haydn’s Symphony No. 93, and Falla’s Three Cornered Hat complete ballet score. Enjoy!

slatkin to detroit

Leonard Slatkin
Leonard Slatkin

Conductor Leonard Slatkin, one of the most prominent figures in American music during the last three decades, will be named today as music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Slatkin’s appointment, all but a certainty since midsummer, ends an unusually long search that began when Neeme Järvi announced his intention to step down as music director in 2005 after a popular 15-year run.

  • Read the entire story here.
  • And another here.

responses to tragedy

I was reading this article in today’s Sunday New York Times, about the New York Philharmonic’s music director designate Alan Gilbert, when I was struck by the first paragraph, which describes how an orchestra he was guest conducting responded to the death of a colleague:

ALAN GILBERT stood before the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic last month in one of the most difficult moments he has faced as the orchestra’s chief conductor. An hour before, the players learned that a well-liked former member had committed suicide.

“It feels strange to rehearse,” Mr. Gilbert quietly told them as they sat on the stage without instruments, looking stricken. Some held each other. Several sobbed. “On the other hand, not to rehearse, not to do what we do as musicians, is even stranger,” Mr. Gilbert added. “It’s a shame that it takes sometimes a terrible thing like this to remind us that we are a family.”

That could just as well describe the scene Friday morning, as the rehearsal period began for this weekend’s pops series. Beloved OSO flutist Martha Herby had died that morning, around 5 a.m. Much of the orchestra had gotten the news via phone (news travels quickly in the orchestra), but some had not heard the news. A colleague of mine said that she was glad that there was a rehearsal, even under those difficult circumstances, because “being here with friends is better than sitting home alone”.

There’s something about having to work just after having heard horrible news. I almost always find it to be therapeutic. Giving the mind something to do while the subconscious starts processing the shock and grief. Being with many other people who share similar connections to the deceased as you do. And just “being professional” and doing your job even when you think you can’t possibly keep it together.

It helps when those you work for are sympathetic and sincere. OSO president Elaine Calder came out at the start of the rehearsal and announced the news, with great emotion and sincerity. A ten-minute hold on the start time was given to allow people to react and compose themselves, and only the musicians remained on stage, silently reflecting, weeping, hugging one another, connecting across the orchestra with their eyes, or simply sitting eyes cast downward, trying to absorb it all.

Joy and sorrow really do define the direction and tenor of our lives, and I’ve shared both within this orchestra, and so it becomes my extended family.