Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another Sunday, another concert

We had our third orchestra concert of the season today. I had to get the cello out of mothballs for this. I spent some time over the past month playing scales and simple etudes just to get my fingers working again. However, it seems that as long as I am practicing some instrument at a fairly intense level -- these days, obviously the piano -- it's not so hard to get my cello playing back up to a decent (if not super high) level within a day or two. The same synapses in the brain must be firing no matter what instrument one plays.

The main piece on the program was a world premiere of Joseph Santo's "Vísperas de la Santa Cruz," which he describes as a "concert Vespers." That is, it's meant to evoke the feeling of a service but not actually to be used for one. I know little to nothing about Catholic liturgical music, but simply as music I found the piece interesting. Though probably not groundbreaking, it has some nice effects, and the writing is graceful. My husband says he enjoyed listening to it.

There was some griping among the orchestra members about having to play this, not because of this piece, especially, but because there's a tendency for amateur musicians to grumble about playing anything they have never heard before that is in an nonclassical idiom. And then, they don't want to spend a lot of time practicing something they will never play again. (I should add that this does not apply only to amateurs!) However, this particular piece seemed to have been written with the amateur playing level in mind; though it has a few tricky places for some of the instruments (not the cellos, though), overall it is not technically difficult. All the difficulties are in getting the ensemble to play together. I think we did okay, though it would have helped if more first violins had been at every rehearsal.

Anyway, I found it refreshing to play something different. Believe me, I've played lots worse . . .

The concert opened with Verdi's overture to I Vespri Siciliani, an opera that actually has little to do with Vespers, but it was a nice contrast to the somber Santo piece. The cellos have a pretty section solo, too.

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