Post rehearsal performance material thoughts

For those of you who think that I am just picking on living composers when I stress the importance of easily readable materials (pace Kyle Gann), I thought I would pass along to Vftp readers our experience tonight with Schumann’s Genoveva Overture, which we are playing tomorrow as part of our ongoing Schumann cycle with the SMP.

Genoveva is a beautiful opera, and the overture is stunning and  effective, but very, very rarely played. As far as I know, nobody in the SMP has played it before. Why might such a wonderful piece sit on the shelf decade after decade? Well, Schumann will always sound modern and so his music will never be as widely known as Beethoven, but this piece has another factor working against it- lousy parts for the players. Granted, we’re using a very old set, and the paper is rather yellowed, but the typesetting/engraving is really not good- bars seem squashed in, dynamics are hard to see, and it just doesn’t come off the page very easily.

At least my living friends can fix (or force their publishers to fix) problems with their parts, rather than leaving musicians 200 years later to struggle with illegible music.

Good news for friends and fans who wrote today in despair about tickets for tomorrow- no,  sadly I still don’t have any comps, but the hall has taken out the stage extension (it is going to be awfully cozy on stage), so they have about 30 more tickets available . If you still want to go, call the Electric Theatre box office first thing.

If all goes according to plan tomorrow, I’ll try to live-blog the concert tomorrow from the Electric. I’m quite psyched about this one- we’ll try to make it cosmic.

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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

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