Thursday, August 02, 2007

Linz Symphony - Mostly Mozart

One year after beginning the oboe I joined the Northwestern Michigan Symphony Orchestra as second oboe to my teacher, Nancy Brammer. I think I was about 15 years old. The first concert I played with them ended with the "Linz" Symphony. My father had a recording of the piece with Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. I could hardly believe I would play a piece that was on a record! I sat down one day after school with the Breitkopf & Härtel part before me, its ornate cover page promised music with a capital M. I put the needle on the record and opened my part. Immediately I was lost and never was sure I found my place . . .

The opening concert of the Mostly Mozart season begins with the Linz Symphony. After a week of working primarily on Beethoven, Mozart's delicately complex pleasures and sophisticated challenges were a delight.

Again, Louis' themes of harmonic structure, articulation, and suppleness of line informed our work. Mozart as opera composer was present as well, with his shifting characterizations musical motivations.

I'm not so sure why, but at one point in the dress rehearsal of the Finale, the inside first desk cellist took out a small bottle of, well, I don't know what it's called, of bubble stuff, and blew bubbles while we played. OK, it was pretty unexpected. After the run-through, Louis brought it up. "When Alvin blew his bubbles, everyone looked around to see what was going to happen. That's what I want from you all the time. 'What's going to happen next?' There must be reaction, surprise, and dialogue. Who is going to do what and how will you join them? We must always be that alert."

I hope all of our music making is filled with reaction, surprise, and dialogue.

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