Rehearsal #5

19 07 2008

It seems all I write about nowadays are rehearsals. Well, I guess that goes to show how much I value them.

Today, we started working on Somewhere in Time and Nimrod. Somewhere in Time comes from the movie of the same title, starring Christopher Reeve in his pre-paraplegic state and, as I put to one of the younger violinists, “Your mom was probably still single when it came out.” We’re working on the version by the classical/crossover pianist Maksim, which is a bit longer than the original movie version, but no less sweet.

The main melody, played by no less than all the violins and violas had the musicians quivering with delight as they hit the high notes and just couldn’t contain themselves anymore (the violas in particular had to stop playing altogether). To quote Sir Richard Pontzius of the Asian Youth Orchestra, “It’s like drinking sugar”.

Well…not for the cellos.

Sigh. The cellos. I’ve got two talented cellists who don’t really want to play the cello. I often feel like they pray for an opportunity to NOT rehearse. They don’t practice during the week (I know because they leave their instruments in my classroom ALL week), and when they do show up for rehearsals, they get left in the dust by the violins (who seem to be very happy with their parts nowadays) and start whining about things being so hard.

I wish I could do something for them, but I have to face the fact that in high school, friends mean more than pretty much anything else – grades, awards, prestige, honor, moral values – you name it, and it gets chucked-out the window when it “gets in the way” of friendship. What’s really sad is that after high school, one ends-up with a pile of regrets about things that were given up for friendships that often don’t last beyond graduation. Of course there are exceptions (the last batch that graduated insists they’re one of them)…but not many.

…which is probably why The Orchestra is attracting more and more people who are past “school age” so to speak – it’s a chance for them to make-up for a few regrets.

Oh well. My dear cellists, whom I love more than they will ever possibly know (mainly because they don’t believe me…mainly because I practice a very tough version of love, in hopes that they will finally grow up) – I hope you find what you’re looking for.

Nimrod is a tough cookie. In the key of E flat major, it is very prone to wrong notes when your violinists are not used to checking the key signatures of the parts they’re playing before actually playing them. It is also very difficult to nail because of awkward fingerings and bowings, with slurs that go on forever. Add to that the fact that it takes them through every position between first and fourth, and you have scenes where one by one, the violinists drop out, unable to play any further.

Nevertheless, when it is done right, Nimrod is simply heartbreaking. It conjurs up a scene where a dying man is watching his final sunset, bringing-up the years of his life in his mind – some bitter, some sweet – and realizing that despite the suffering, it’s been a good life, and if he could do it over again, he probably wouldn’t want to change anything. And then, as the sun dips below the horizon and the sky flares up in a brilliant conflagration of golds and reds (listen for the timpani!), he gives thanks, just before the light goes out in his eyes…and evening falls.

I still think the Chicago Symphony’s 1997 version with Daniel Barenboim (his version with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra during their 2007 concert in Ramallah is a bit rushed, to my ears) is the gold standard by which all other renditions are to be judged. I’ve posted the link to YouTube before, so here it is again.





One response

19 07 2008

i missed a rehearsal again 😦
i said naman why last week diba? we had an all day physics camp for dlsu. i wanna start on it naaa

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