A tight ship and a tigher timeline

One thing that is nice about working in Pendleton is that local organizations help each other out- for instance the schools can borrow our chairs or we can borrow their risers. The bad thing is that sometimes you have two organizations who may talk past each other.We’re using seated risers for the Mahler, which the OES does not own. At the Holiday concert we borrowed a set from the school district, which worked fine. After that, we asked if we could use them again for the Mahler, and then our office called last week to arrange pick up. Several days went by and a number of calls weren’t returned, but that’s okay. In a small town you know that people usually know your timeline and will get back to you just at the last minute. Sure enough, today we had a call first thing from the district. It’s good timing, since tonight is the first rehearsal with the chorale and the orchestra together on stage.Unfortunately, we have to pick them up by 2:30 when the resource center closes. Unfortunate, that is, because we have a tour with the youth orchestra that doesn’t get back until 3:30, and our stage manager needs to be out with the youth orchestra since he is the stage manager for that, and the percussion coach.

So- we all load up and head West on I 84 to Hermiston with the preparatory orchestra. We have a great concert there, mostly because the middle school audience is so polite and responsive. Middle school age kids are usually the toughest audiences because it is such a socially awkward time for young people. However, our host, the local band director, runs a very, very tight ship, and by the time she’s said her few words to the kids you would be able to hear a pin drop but for the fact that we are playing next to the school kitchen, which is going full blast. I do wonder how we expect kids to learn anything when our schools are so chaotic..

After that we have lunch at a beautiful new convention center and resort on the shore of the Columbia River, then one last performance at the local elementary school. We have quite a good schtick worked up to introduce Egmont, and the little kids seem to particularly like the bit where Egmont is decapitated. Just as we’re starting the performance I remember it is our last show of the year- it feels so abrupt.

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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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