On Saturday, the Phoenix Sock and I went on an adventure to Nashville.
It was Beethoven day. We left around noon (Esther drove, mostly because her car has air conditioning and mine does not -- or it does, but only when it feels like it, which is about once a month. This meant I had plenty of knitting time, though!)
We arrived on time despite part of the highway being closed and the resulting traffic. Dress rehearsal went quite well (though I do not feel that when a choir is to sing Beethoven's 9th, it is sufficient warm-up to run up the scale, remark to the sopranos "There's your A!" and then descend to lower ranges for the rest of the warmup. (And besides, we have to sing high B's as well.)
The maestro was in rare form for the rehearsal. It was sort of an open rehearsal, for which they actually sell tickets -- it was strange to have an audience and yet be occasionally stopped for notes and nit-picking. We started with the final movement of the Beethoven and worked backwards. But there were a few more gems from the maestro... He took exception to the chorus's somewhat relaxed manner of standing up before our entrance, and scolded us. "The audience must know from the way you stand that something extraordinary is about to come! You must not go 'oh, it is my turn now' - you must stand with feeling! Remember, this was written by a German!"
And, at a spot where he had been very particular about the pianissimo at the last rehearsal, and said it should sound like something from a horror film: "No, no, no! We worked so hard to get a eerie pianissimo and now -- it is just -- PG 13! We must be rated R! It must be banned in this country!"
The choir was dismissed after the fourth movement but most of us came back to the hall to listen to the rest of the rehearsal. The 9th was completed in reverse order of movements, which was actually interesting -- it makes it easier to hear those bits from the first movement which are referenced and quoted in later movements. I decided the maestro is more fun to watch when you can see his face, but he's still entertaining from the back! He dances in rehearsals. And some of the instrumentalists evidently decided that a dress rehearsal, even one with audience, could be treated very casually. One of the cellists was about half an hour late -- he crept in at a pause in rehearsal, trying very hard to be inconspicuous and failing utterly by reason of the large instrument he was toting, the unnecessarily loud plaid of his shorts, and the fact that he almost knocked a music stand over sitting down. Later on, a couple trombonists wandered onstage halfway through the third movement. Having played their bit, they wandered off again, taking the trombones with them. I giggled. Esther and I decided that they'd gone for a coffee break.
Then there was a break (not however involving coffee), during which I found Mark and his friend Sarah, to whom I'd given my comp tickets (Alyce being at work and therefore unavailable to accompany her husband) and then they played the Egmont Overture, and a Vivaldi piccolo concerto (at which Mark observed that being a world-class piccolo player probably doesn't carry quite the same prestige as being, say, a world-class violin player...)
Then a return to the Schermerhorn...
...to read and knit and enjoy the air conditioning... before meeting a friend of Esther's for dinner. We wandered a few blocks from the hall in search of something cheap and ended up at Sbarro's. Calzones all round (and the sock made another appearance.)
And back again (we got our exercise walking back and forth in the record breaking heat) to dress for the concert and warm up again.
It is hard to describe a concert, and I won't try -- much. Suffice it to say that Beethoven worked his usual magic, which means that I was alternately near tears and on the verge of laughter. (Some of that was at Maestro Guerra, who conducted the first 30 seconds of the second movement almost entirely with his eyebrows. And who added another move to his repertoire -- hopping up and down whilst whirling one arm violently in circles.) The whole thing was excellently played and -- judging by the audience's response, well sung also. They were very enthusiastic. And it is exhilarating to sing such a huge work with a large choir and an excellent orchestra! I'm so glad they needed extra sopranos, and I'm very much looking forward to singing Mahler in September!