Up the Creek with no Paddle

I’ve lost my agenda. That all-knowing booklet, bound neatly in plastic covers, is my guiding light throughout the orchestra season. Not only does it contain all the information we need to wend our way through professional life-  times, places, works to learn, contact numbers and addresses -mine is my personal bible of  appointments,  reminders, and trivia. I have never lost my agenda, and am in a panic. I’m up that proverbial murky creek without a mode of propulsion. When’s  the dentist appointment, what time must I be at the airport, where will I find  my friend’s private cell phone number again? This clever depository of  facts and a cunning feat of planning reveals a plethora of activities. If you could have a look between its pages, you’d be astonished at the variety of venues that we, your orchestra, serve. Because that , „Service“, is what our work is – literally. Every time we appear at a rehearsal, concert or theater performance, it is called „Dienst“  =  Service. We are here for you!  Of course an agenda can be replaced, luckily enough.  But without our audience we’d  operate in a vacuum.  Our listeners motivate and empower us, give us inspiration and reward us. We’d be very much alone without you. Perhaps, if I continue searching for my agenda, I might get lucky and find it. If not, I can comfort myself with the fact that we’re now on vacation and I don’t need it just yet. I hope you, too, will enjoy some time off and come back refreshed and recharged for our new season. Happy holidays, we look forward to seeing you again soon!

Last Call for Bruckner

This morning was our dress rehearsal for Bruckner’s Second Symphony and the last rehearsal of the orchestra season as well. I’m not sure that I love the music more than I did before we started, but I’ve loved the concentrated and stimulating  rehearsal atmosphere. Ivor is in top form, knows the score backwards and forwards, and seems to revel in the glory of this music. I think he’s also quite happy to have his family here for this session of rehearsals and concerts:  time shared together  is quite precious.  I wish I’d written down more of the things he said in rehearsals, because they’re always a beautiful illustration of the point he wishes to make. “ Pizzicati like heavy raindrops,“ a poetic suggestion indeed.  I’m looking forward to the world premiere of Domenico’s piece, to Lars Vogt’s intelligent, unaffected, and thoughtful Mozart, but mostly, to some peace-filled and reverent moments in the Bruckner symphony.   A fitting way of closing this season,  these moments of humility and reflection give way to unfettered joy and  an appeal for optimism and faith.  I can’t help looking forward to next season already.

My First Date with Bruckner 2

My first date with Bruckner 2 comes late in my career. After decades of playing in professional orchestras, this piece is one that’s slipped through the cracks – until now.  I have to admit to a certain nervousness because, frankly, I’m not a fan of Bruckner.  Honestly,  my  attitude’s  been that Bruckner symphonies are pieces that I listened to as a student while  stoned, and it was okay  but not mind-boggling. Maybe something’s wrong with me, because so many of my colleagues consider Bruckner to be the highest height. In any case, tomorrow I will play Bruckner. I’ve spent the last days preparing my part, first practicing it, then listening to a recording so I understand the tempi and  the transitions. Then, practicing again and again and again, until the music is solidly positioned in my head. It’s only then, when I understand exactly where the music’s going, that my fingers feel securely in place, too.  So tomorrow’s the big day, and I’m wondering if my reluctance will turn to joy, or maybe more. Because, at some point (and I know myself quite well in this regard), the music will invade and permeate my consciousness. Day and night, Herr Bruckner will be omnipresent in my thoughts, I’ll have no say in the matter.  The question is, will the force of  his music win me over and make me embrace it? Will it be like a drug that lets me step away from myself for an instant? I’m wondering how much I’ll be able to open myself to a music which is very foreign to me.  But when it comes to the concerts, I know only one possibility exists: to play my heart out.  I’m certain that there will be moments of exhaltation and passion, as well as introvertion and reflection, and all of this  I will carry on into my life. If it touches the lives of a hearer  in even the smallest way, then something truly great will  have been achieved.  What can be a better tribute to the immenseness of music than that it makes us more human and at the same time, more in touch with the divine?