Dress rehearsal part one

Miles Davis said it best- that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and as the Mahler Journey enters its last 24 hours, I find it harder and harder to write anything meaningful.We had only the shortest of breaks between the string sectional and the dress rehearsal, which two days earlier would have seemed […]

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Sectionals

As always, the morning begins with coffee. The Northwest is an area that takes beverages seriously- we have some of the best wine, beer and coffee in the world, and we’re very lucky in Pendleton to have a fantastic local coffee roaster. I’m very lucky that that coffee roaster is next door to the symphony […]

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Friday Night

Just getting everyone on this stage is half the battle, it seems, and finally tonight, we have our full compliment of players for the first time, as our last few imports have arrived. Fifteen minutes before the downbeat and it is quite chaotic. Everyone is trying to find a place on stage, new players are […]

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Last of the Flakes

Late start after long night at the Rainbow on Thurs. Suzanne and I make the trip down to the local coffee shop for much needed caffeine and bagels, before I head into the office.  It is the last weekday of our concert preparation, which means I am greeted by the final update on our flake […]

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First Full Rehearsal

Rehearsal starts with the last movement from the entrance of the chorus. We have the last chord of the off-stage brass and flute, then they’re in. The first section is not yet spectacularly good- at a couple of key moments, the altos are dropping their pitch quite a bit and by the end they’ve pulled […]

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Three crazy hours

Back around 4 PM to PDT and we’ve had a bit of a problem. Our office coordinator had called a friend of the orchestra who often has to save the day for us and asked him if he could get to the school to pick up the risers. When he arrives they try to give […]

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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 […]

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Stuck in traffic

Board meeting tonight- an important one as we have a season to announce for next year and a need to agree on a budget. We’re also trying to make a new long-range plan, update our bylaws and we’re looking at making some significant changes in how we staff the office. Being in a board meeting […]

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Life and Death

Of course, it is an absolute certainty that on a big project one will always have things come up: cancellations, crisis and so on. Most of them are the results of either good things that get in the way like Amy’s big break in New York, or flaky behavior, like the horn guy. What is […]

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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 […]

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A “funky, weird, tingly feeling”

Jetlag- my constant companion…. Though I was completely wiped out after day one of the preparatory orchestra retreat, I find I wake up long, long before my alarm goes off, only to fall in and out of sleep until it finally starts screeching. At this point, I enter a 50-minute standoff with the snooze button, […]

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Side Trip

After the second rehearsal I can’t resist a trip to the local cowboy bar with some of my colleagues in the orchestra. While there, Peter, who should already be well on his way back to Portland, very kindly stops in to let me know the other horn player said yes. What a mensch. Fortunately, our […]

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Down to work

One of my basic conducting philosophies is that one should give the players at least two opportunities to play without fear of being corrected or interrupted- two chances where they can be absolutely fearless and take risks. For me, those are the first rehearsal and the concert(s). The concert is, hopefully, a lot more polished, […]

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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 […]

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