03 November 2016

Orchestra rehearsal

Day three at the Performers(’) present symposium at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore was more for the musicians in us than the listeners. The first session was an open orchestra rehearsal with conductor Gabor Takacs-Nagy rehearsing Beethoven Symphony no.6 and Piano concerto no.1. I was stunned from the first notes how well the orchestra sounded. It was big (8 basses of the symphony; 4 basses for the concerto) in a lively hall but that was not all. This outfit showed real confidence from the very first notes of the symphony. One example was the basses playing semiquavers at performance pace. This bowled me over but by this time was just a pleasure rather than a surprise. These are capable players and apparently all students. It was not just once that I sat back and luxuriated in this big and confident playing. But conductor GT-N still had plenty to say, about phrasing, interpretation, sometimes bowing (several times he borrowed a violin to demonstrate). This was a man with energy, commitment, obviously a good ear. I was amused how we came to hear more as he highlighted whatever. So, some themes and quotes. Listen and anticipate; supporting others is your role; forget your own part as much as you can and listen; "start to run before you get the batton" (=be on top of the music) "we were alive 9 months before we were born"; "dance with the ball" (he mentioned a youthful love of soccer and highlighted dance and other feels); for strings, many time the left hand should be louder that the right (he got the violins to practice a passage without bow); (about a spot in B6) "here comes the Singaporean storm"; (about a passage in B6 mvt.3) "this is the only 3 1/2 minutes that is not human, really"; much articulation required to be heard in a concert hall; (about another passage) "arrogant and biting: you have to be an angry animal". Then the piano concerto. Piano is percussive, implications for strings playing to fit; follow your interior voice "don't be a violin player, be a singer". There was more and there was plenty we couldn't make out, being behind the back of the voice spoken to an orchestra in a hall. But some hugely satisfying playing and correspondingly huge energy in guidance. Loved this session and learnt a lot.

Gabor Takacs-Nagy (conductor) led an open rehearsal with the Orchestra of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore during the Performers(’) present symposium. They rehearsed Beethoven Symphony no.6 and Piano concerto no.1.

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