Behold! The handsome clock tower of Birmingham University. I never would have imagined experiencing this amount of sun in Britain. The heat is lovely, however the rehearsals aren’t quite what I’d call pleasant. One hundred and seventy people in a room with a low ceiling means heavyweight eyelids, stickiness from the humidity, dehydration and one very uncomfortable backside. Luckily, my desk partner gives me some entertainment if we are taking a break from concentrating.
Each day, we have been working on the repertoire for the three concerts due to be performed in August. We’ve played through most of the Turangalila movements, but only once. It is the most thickly orchestrated mass cosmic chaos I have ever been involved it. Google it: Turangalila by Messiaen
…and Nico Muhly’s new piece, Gait! During a section of the 20 minute work, our large violin sections are divided into quite a lot of layers, which overlap each other. Obviously, there isn’t any footage of this commission around, but there is plenty of his other music available to listen to, covering almost every genre!
Film, jazz, classical, pop. Eg:
He sat in the rehearsals today and was very enigmatic and enthusiastic about trying new sound effects (hmm, not sure what other word to use) with all of us. For example, at one point in the strings, we are meant to represent a type of murmuring conversation – bouncing our bows on some notes or staggered slow-motion tremolando – primarily a quivering, fast bow stroke.
Nico also talked about the two lines which I play as a solo. I still feel very strange playing it, or saying that it is mine to play. Who’d have thought sitting fifth desk in the second violins would present to me an opportunity (misfortune!) like this? He asked for hyperbolic vibrato in the melody I play. It has some soaring leaps and is petrifying to play alone, in the middle of the section. Each time after it ends, my hands are shaking. I have a week – I have time to practise!
Today, being the fourth day of the course, we had ‘Sectional Bonding Night’ – a name which may be a little off-putting to some – but I enjoy these. The principals of each section of the orchestra arrange activities for them to do. This could mean pizza, a dinner out, or absolutely nothing. We had pizza and we played “Would I Lie to You?” the popular comedy TV gameshow. Here’s my lie:
True or false?
Tomorrow is a day devoted to Handsfree and beat boxing and the world famous Shlomo. Goodnight.