Mom’s Pension

Mom’s pension is safe by noon Monday.    Another early start- this time a radio interview in Hermiston. It’s me and our harpist, who also helps with publicity on the air. Our host is quick to inform me that he prefers Merle Haggard to Mahler, but he’s very gracious and skilled on air. The half hour flies by.   

 Very pleasant breakfast with Joyce afterwards, then back to Pendleton and almost straight to an Artistic Advisory committee meeting. Before I go, though, Phyllis (our office manager) lets me know that she has finally heard from John the Elusive Horn Player. He’s told her that since he never heard from us that he assumed that we didn’t need him, and that he is now otherwise engaged. Yes, he did get the contract, and the music, and the five emails and the three phone messages, but he’d been out of town for a week in March, and rather busy, which counts as not hearing from us. My reaction is a pleasant mix of righteous indignation, smugness at having called this back in January, and relief that we found a better and more professional player to replace him. Also, we can now finally take his name off our list forever.  

  Artistic Advisory- It’s an unfortunate aspect of our setup that we have to finalize the coming season during the week of our final concert, which is usually an ambitious one. It makes for a lot of distractions. However, the meeting goes very smoothly- they’re all very supportive and open-minded people (after all, they let me do Mahler this year!). At this point, we’re all on the same page, so it’s really budget committee people we have to deal with.    Afternoon is mostly logistics and publicity- working with Joyce and Phyllis and Tiffany to make sure the papers have what they need from us, and confirming stage set up issues. I do have a couple of hours in the late afternoon to study, but by that point I am feeling quite spacey, and end up reading a book at dinner instead of studying.   Tonight is my first rehearsal with the chorus since returning to town. For the first time in my tenure we have a chorus master this year who really understands how to prepare a symphonic chorus, so I have not been too stressed out about this. We read through once, then work in detail, easily using the entire two hours. Lots of color issues, lots of releases and final consonants, and balance. A few pitch issues, but not many. Cyril’s done a very good job with them. It is the most amazing choral writing- everything works, everything suits the words so perfectly, but it gets harder for the singers the more they understand the depth of it. By the end I feel much fresher, I’ve got a good second wind, so head back to the office for some late night studying.   

 

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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.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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