First Rehearsal

Finally, the first rehearsal is here. After all the buildup, it’s a surprisingly normal evening.    A word about the OES: We have a consistent local core of musicians, most of whom have been with the orchestra for a long time, who come to all of our rehearsals. They make up pretty much our entire woodwind section, about half of the brass and half of the strings, although mostly lower strings. Then, for a full orchestra concert, we’ll bring in the rest of the musicians just for the weekend of the concert. The system works well in that in enables us to do works we otherwise couldn’t do at a level we couldn’t otherwise achieve, but it is a stressful way to work, and the penultimate rehearsal is always scary as there are so many players trying to fit in to what has already been worked on with the core.    So, one surprise, a number of our imports who normally can only come for those final two rehearsals are there for the first reading. It’s great for me to see, and probably even better for the core players to see. It shows that the imports are taking the orchestra ever more seriously and they care enough to make more time for us.   So, tune and off we go. After all the discussions, production meetings and so on, it feels kind of, well, normal. One of our normally very strong brass players seems really nervous I the first movement, but by the finale, he’s playing very well. We get through the whole thing and fix a few little spots. This is looking fun after all…

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

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