“That definitely deserves a Chocolate Eclair.”

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Joanna MacGregor in Birmingham Symphony Hall

NYO, Day 2 in Birmingham Symphony Hall. The soloists, Joanna MacGregor and Cynthia Millar, arrived to complete our ensemble for this course. This meant we poured the majority of our rehearsal time over the Messiaen Turangalila – completing eight movements out of ten. Very tiring…

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I approve of the music stands in this hall – so much space to put your belongings! Phone, watch, pencil, food, everything.

Joanna MacGregor has incredible power in her playing. In her cadenzas it’s like pooooooowwww thundering the ground. The orchestra is a bit too loud for the soloist at the moment – the conductor kept telling us to play softer and softer.

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The organ at the back of the hall.

I couldn’t get a photo of Cynthia Millar on her solo instrument – Ondes Martenot. A couple of people from the orchestra might do an interview/video of her later: I’ll share it when it’s done. I haven’t got the courage to get a photo of or with Vasily Petrenko yet…

Fug, absorbed in the ambience of the new acoustic, enjoys warming up. (She’s going to hate me for putting this up.)

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I’m really beginning to love the Messiaen. I still think it’s not for everyone’s ears. It’s too crazy, too noisy and rhythmically complicated. My mind suffers a lot from all the precise counting of beats, times, pauses and other musical values. Vasily Petrenko takes it at lightning speed at times and is very strict on keeping us up to perfect tempo and ensemble – but he doesn’t forget about the musical meaning of the work: love. Even though it’s all about the same ‘anguish’, ‘torment’, ‘confusion’, ‘playful’ aspects, it’s unlike any expression of love I’ve ever come across. His musical ideas include Charlie Chaplin, Bollywood dancing and snake charmers. In general, he wants the orchestra to have more fun and play more than simple notes on a page (and to play in time…)

The third movement from the Turangalîla Symphony:

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Leader of the orchestra.

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My desky bought a bag of chocolate eclairs!

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Desk 5, hooray!

After a break or two, we returned to our seats on stage. Then, this started to appear within the second violin section:

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As you can see, orchestral playing can have an impact on general instrumental technique. Violinists show some uncertainty in the positioning of their bowing arms.

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Then, the third desk and front desk started doing it as well. Oh dear!

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At the end of the day, this is what our floor looked like. Desky and I had a few chocolate eclairs. When we played through a big chunk of a movement, she’d say:

That definitely deserves a chocolate eclair.

…then we’d proceed to eat some.

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There was also a TV Camera filming some of our rehearsal. It turned up on the local news this evening!

Two days until our first concert! Better go to sleep…

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