RCICW 08 Day Five

Day 5 done, the hour is late…..

Today was all conducting, no talking (no seminars, that is)- three sessions with the orchestra (four musicians played all three services!). I can’t remember any other day in the last four years here during which I thought I saw so many students conduct the best I’d seen them do. The Copland session was good, but I still feel like we’ve mostly only dealt with it as a technical exercise and barely scratched the surface of what it means and expresses. I’m still a bit baffled that a good musician, however busy, would only learn the first half of the piece. Especially a piece that is so organic and integrated. On the positive side, one student drew from David the single most impressive five minutes of conducting teaching I have ever seen- the student in question was, with David’s help, able to leap forward in a matter of minutes to solve, with one concept, a whole mountain of problems. Amazing.

The Dvorak session was more inspiring and satisfying, with some real major steps forward to be seen. We seemed to keep coming back to the ideas of centering, horizontal and circular motions and avoiding impulses that constrict the flow of the musical line.  Finally, we had our second Madame Butterfly session. Tonight’s students had the huge advantage of having seen the session on Wednesday, and forewarned is forearmed, but that is no reason to understate their accomplishements. It’s not a night I’ll soon forget. I even had chills a few times.

We’ve now gone through and organized the final concerts, so the students can begin to narrow their focus in preparation for Sunday. In past years, the process of organizing the final concert has been at best arduous. This year, it went fast, but I’m already sure we made a mistake or two, but that’s okay. If one luck’s into something one is not yet ready for, hopefully they have the self-awareness to know that is the case, and to put in that little bit of extra effort and commitment to earn now what hasn’t been earned in their preparation to date. On the whole, though, I’m looking forward to it.

More soon. Meanwhile, I go to bed hoping that the Beethoven is going to come to life tomorrow as it hasn’t so far….

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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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1 comment on “RCICW 08 Day Five”

  1. Pingback: Kenneth Woods- a view from the podium » Rose City International Conductor’s Workshop- digest of journal entries

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