Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An unusual collaboration


Last week members of the Columbus Symphony joined forces with members of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra for a gala performance for the University of Dubuque.  I have never before heard of two orchestras collaborating this way.  In my prior experience such collaborations have occurred only between a professional orchestra and a student orchestra, and are typically referred to as "side by side" concerts or rehearsals.

What a glorious occasion - it was the grand opening of the University of Dubuque's brand new Heritage Center concert hall.  World-renowned violinist Gil Shaham performed as soloist in the Brahms Violin Concerto conducted by Columbus Symphony Associate Conductor Peter Stafford Wilson.  The program also included Beethoven Symphony No. 7 conducted by Dubuque Symphony Orchestra's Music Director William Intriligator.

The acoustics of the new concert hall were absolutely amazing.  The hall looked enormous on the inside, but it seats only 1,000.  Perhaps that is the ideal size for a concert hall, especially considering audience trends.  To me the best way to test a  hall is to listen carefully during exposed or solo passages, when I can hear what the hall is doing to my individual sound.  In the case of the Ohio Theatre where I normally perform, the hall does nothing but deaden the sound.  Who needs that!?  But in the Heritage Center, when I tapered a note at the end of an exposed passage in the Brahms, the hall continued the taper after I stopped.  It resonated! And the entire passage had sounded as though there had been several bassoons playing in perfect unison, not just one.  The hall actually enhanced my sound - and that's ideal.  (And now I'm spoiled.)

Photo: Combined members of Columbus and Dubuque Symphony Orchestra violists after a great weekend of music, friendship making all the meanwhile opening a marvelous Heritage Center at University of Dubuque. Thanks everyone!!!
the joint viola section, which sounded AWESOME

The Columbus musicians had a great time exploring Dubuque and meeting the Dubuque Symphony musicians.   I especially enjoyed getting to know Dubuque's principal bassoonist Dr. Barry Ellis who also teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Dubuque's principal clarinetist Corey Mackey whose resume, seemingly growing by the day, is also impressive.

The spirit of cooperation, collaboration and camaraderie was palpable that week, and I doubt that any of us will ever forget our pioneering joint performance.

view of the Mississippi River from my hotel room in Dubuque


Monday, May 13, 2013

Marching metronomes

I'm not even sure of what to say about this other than to observe that this is a video of 32 metronomes placed on a flexible surface.  Each metronome is turned on, and multiple tempos conflict.  But after a couple of minutes of magical adjustment, the metronomes end up perfectly synchronized. Even the unusually defiant red metronome in the far right row, second from the front, ends up giving in at around 2'40''.

This would not happen if the metronomes were placed on a solid surface, because the communication among the metronomes requires a flexible medium.

Flexibility is the name of the game.... in life, in music, and in magical marching metronomes.