As promised, here's a (mostly) musical continuation of the last blog.
As most of you know already, our BSO/Peabody conducting fellow, 17-year-old Ilyich Rivas, made his subscription debut last week with a wonderful program of Brahms (Academic Festival Overture), Beethoven (Second Piano Concerto with a very elegant pianist Marcus Groh), Mahler's devine Blumine movement from his First Symphony, and Shostakovich's powerful First Symphony. I'm not planning to turn this blog into a place for concert reviews (I'll leave that to professionals), but my impression is that Mr. Rivas has great potential to become a wonderful conductor. His score memory is obviously strong, and he has great, deep feelings for music that he is not afraid to share with the musicians in front of him. Any other possible shortcomings can be easily corrected with the right guidance and invaluable experience that will come with many more hours on the podium. On the trivial side of things, we have all seen many a baton fly out of hands of conductors (both forward, into the orchestra, and back, into the audience). However, Mr. Riva's cufflink that flew a few audience rows back last Thursday night in a dramatic arc during one of his particularly demonstrative gestures in the opening Brahms piece was a first! It was cordially given back to him so that he could start the Beethoven Piano Concerto in full gear (and he is an elegant dresser). As my violinist colleague Greg Mulligan joked, that was a true Off the Cuff performance!
This Tuesday morning we were treated to a masterfully run rehearsal by Gilbert Varga, a conductor new to us. We rehearsed the Stravinsky Petrouchka, and a complex and exciting piece that is full of traps (mostly rhythmical) out of which it's hard to climb. Mr. Varga showed us, from the first few seconds of the rehearsal, that he is so in control of things, we have little to worry. He is a very organized, energetic conductor that knows exactly what needs to be rehearsed and how, and orchestras always appreciate that. Wednesday, we are rehearsing the rest of the program which includes Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla and Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1. It's sure to be an energy-filled week!
Concerts are Thursday at Strathmore, Friday and Saturday at Meyerhoff, all at 8pm. Get your tickets now, and don't forget to contribute to BOLT for the BSO (see last blog), so you can get your tickets free and join us for a lobby party after Friday's concert. I'll be there with some of my family, and would love to meet some of you, so you can tell me in person what you'd like to read about in this space.
Talk to you next time.