Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AAC in Action

I bet most patrons are not aware of the AAC and it's function. One of the committees that musicians voluntarily serve on, through the election by BSO musicians, is the Artistic Advisory Committee. We discuss many aspects of BSO operations with our CEO, Paul Meecham, our General Manager, Kendra Whitlock Ingram and other artistic staff. They listen to our requests and recommendations for guest conductors and for repertoire, and we discuss other topics such as acoustics and stage set up, too.

This week we are focusing on selecting finalists for an assistant conductor audition scheduled to take place in April. Over one hundred and twenty applicants sent DVDs of themselves conducting various orchestras. We are in the process of whittling down the list to ten or so DVDs that Marin Alsop will then watch, and ultimately an invitation will go out to about five conductors to come to the audition. At the audition, they will each have about 20-25 minutes to show their stuff to us.

It is fascinating to watch conductors: each has her/his own style. Some seem more "technically" oriented; that is, they convey the tempos and rhythms of the music, and things such as dynamics (how loudly we play) with accurate signals to us, using their arms, faces and bodies. Some "dance" on the podium while others convey almost everything from the waist up. And a rare few seem to describe with their entire bodies, in addition to accurate tempos and dynamics, moods, subtle turns of phrases, emotions, etc. When we see candidates who can "do it all," so to speak, then we get excited and put them on the "Yes" list for Marin.

It will be interesting to see the candidates in a few weeks.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's March!

My favorite month of the baseball season! Well, one of my favorite months anyway. Since I was a little kid, I probably have loved baseball best of all sports. Besides playing with friends after school, I played organized baseball every year from when I was 10 to the summer between freshman and sophomore years in college. Until around then, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. Then I realized that serious baseball players don't attend the University of Rochester, but that aspiring musicians do. (I transferred that fall to the Eastman School of Music, part of the U. of Rochester.)

I started out as a shortstop, and when I was 10 our team won the city championship (my first and last.) Unfortunately the following spring at a practice fielding a ground ball, the ball struck a rock and bounced up into my eye. It knocked me out and put me in the hospital for 10 days because of the internal bleeding. Needless to say, I moved to the outfield for the rest of my career! I think my batting style was of the "swing hard in care you hit it" philosophy. I could hit it pretty far on occasion, but I missed it entirely sometimes too.

I love the O's. I am a die hard fan, usually losing interest only in late August and September, when the losing seems to accelerate. I watch and/or listen on the radio to parts of many games, and follow the players with interest. I'm excited this year because in addition to the young pitchers and position players, the O's seem to have added a few crucial veterans, like Tejada and Millwood. I know we are in a tough division with the (stupid) Yankees and the Red Sox, but who knows? Could this be our surprise year?

By the way, BSO musicians are very appreciative of the support of Peter and Georgia Angelos, who have given generously to the BSO over the years.

In March, all the teams have the same record, so anything is still possible. ;-)