Friday, November 4, 2011

"Ides of October"

So Mother Nature decided to poke fun at us last Saturday (and didn't even have to use Facebook’s poke button for it). Just a couple of weeks after relishing in how the aforementioned "Mother" was right on the dot in sending flocks of Canada Geese due North, I was flying due South on I-83 early one Saturday morning to start my teaching day at Peabody, when she sent a full-fledged winter storm into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast before October even had a chance to have a last word. People were sent scrambling to find car brushes and shovels; cities had to re-equip their trucks in order to push snow off of highways; all this just a few days after our sand boxes got delivered to hilly street corners (ours was still empty)! Also, I must say that hibiscus trees, butterfly bush flowers and marigolds look oh so wrong with a snowy white background behind them.


The BSO's trip to Strathmore was, fortunately, accident-free as we traveled to play an energy-filled concert with Barry Douglas as a soloist and Vasily Petrenko as guest conductor, featuring Rachmaninov's Symphony #3. Mr. Douglas used to play with us fairly often when David Zinman was our Music Director, and we recorded the #3 , together with #2, many years ago in my first few years in the orchestra.

It's funny how a brain plays games and tricks with musicians. Many times in my career, while playing a rehearsal or a concert, a very quick image of something or somebody from the past would appear in, and just as quickly disappear from, my mind (you'd be surprised how, despite the hundreds of bytes of information we are required to keep track of while performing, our brains sometimes venture off to mundane things like what we need to get at the grocery store!). After this happened one too many times, apparently at random, I started to come to a conclusion that I must have been playing that very same music when the given event happened. Now I don’t really have time to keep a diary of all our weekly programs and events from that week, but it would be interesting.

Speaking of interesting (and new), this Friday evening will be the very first time I’ve played a performance of a genuine opera in a pit, as the BSO brings the opera back to Baltimore in concerts in two performances of Verdi’s dramatic La Traviata. It’s been an amazing experience, with a great cast of singers, beautiful sets, and an extremely capable conductor who holds it all together. It has also been great listening to my colleagues that have been in the BSO just slightly (and a few, a lot) longer than me (coming up to my 21st year!) tell the many stories and memories from their days at the Lyric (before the Meyerhoff was built).

This will be a truly memorable weekend for the city and its music lovers. If there are any tickets left, it’ll be the place to see and be seen this weekend, so hurry and get some! We promise at least a few tears and many laughs, accompanied by some of the most beautiful music ever written. I also suggest a visit to Little Italy before and after-you’ll surely be craving some great Italian food after this!

(Little Italy, Baltimore)


-Ivan Stefanovic

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