mozart & mahler

Today was my first day at work for this week’s classical series concerts. Rehearsals for the rest of the orchestra (those playing the Mahler 6th) began on Wednesday. I’m still transitioning to full-time work by playing partial concerts, so I get to play the Mozart G major Violin Concerto this week, with our new-to-me soloist Alexi Kenney.

Violinist Alexi Kenney

I’m at the back of the section again – to avoid disrupting the seating of everyone in the section – and find myself sharing a stand (or rather two stands) with Martha Warrington, who I haven’t regularly sat with since I first joined the orchestra in 1995. We had a laugh over that!

The OSO rehearsing Mahler 6 with Carlos Kalmar, and not me.

It was great to arrive early for my part of the rehearsal and hear this magnificent band play the finale of the Mahler. Terrifying music, played to the hilt, it’s going to be exceptional. Every section of the orchestra sounds fantastic. I’m trying not to feel too bad about missing out by not playing it, but it’s the right thing to do, recovery-wise.

I can’t get over what a different universe it is playing in the back of a string section than playing at the front. In our hall I can see the first desks just fine, but have no inkling of how they’re playing passages, unless I spend all of my time looking at them to figure out bow strokes, etc. I can’t really even hear the stand right in front of me. I can really hear the double basses, though. I can sort of hear my stand partner, but only if we’re out of sync.

What I can hear – besides the basses – is the soloist, the winds, and occasionally the first violins. The second violin section may as well be on another planet, which is especially vexing as they and the violas share a lot of inner voice figuration. I think I can sometimes hear the cello section, but I’m not entirely sure about that.

Anyway, it was so nice to be back, and not tagged onto the end by myself this time. I have been worrying a lot about coming back from a long absence and being in the back – it’s a double case of unfamiliarity. Last week I played the Chick Corea special, on the front stand, but the violas were sitting inside for the first time in eons, and that didn’t really count as ‘normal’ due to the novelty of the situation.

Next week I’ll be back in my normal location for the entire concert, and it’s going to be pretty special. We’re doing a full production of The Tempest by Jean Sibelius. It’s completely unknown to me – I never even read the play in my English literature courses – but the cast is stellar and the production values should be high. It’ll be a concert evening that you won’t want to miss! Check out the deets here.

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