Wednesday, November 3, 2010

October Concert Weekend

Every fall for the past few years, the weekend closest to Halloween has been filled with music for me. I play my horn in the Carleton Symphony Band, the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra (CVRO) and occasionally for Sunday services at a local church. This often leads to tight scheduling and this year was the craziest yet.

The Carleton Band concert was Friday night. The concert theme was "Music of the Uncanny." We played Robert W. Smith's "The Divine Comedy" in four movements: Inferno, Purgatorio, Acension, and Paradiso. What a fantastic piece of writing and a joy to play. So dramatic! We also performed Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries", but the most bizarre piece we did was the Prelude to Franz Waxman's score for the 1935 film "The Bride of Frankenstein." It was really fun and made more so by projecting the film above the heads of the orchestra synched with the music. I know it's not a novel concept, but it still was a hoot.

Randy Ferguson playing Vivaldi
On Saturday morning, I had rehearsal for the Sunday church gig (Reformation Sunday) and Saturday night was the first of two CVRO concerts, this one at the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault. The CVRO concert was titled "A Concert of Healing" and was designed to celebrate the centennial of the Northfield Hospital. We performed two orchestral pieces, Beethoven's "Egmont Overture" and "Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn" by Johannes Brahms. There were three works that featured soloists, a Vivaldi "Concerto for Guitar in D Major", "Four Serious Songs", by Brahms, and "The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

I can't remember the last time we had two basses
We reprised the CVRO concert on Sunday afternoon in Northfield and had a nice crowd for that as well. However, by the time we broke the stage down and returned the various pieces of equipment to their homes in town, I was beat. When your organization doesn't have a permanent location and doesn't own everything it needs to put on a show, life is replete with extra work. The risers go back to St. Olaf, the timpani go back to the UCC church and the truck goes back to Northfield Rent'n'Save. Whew!

That said, the performance by Gail Nelson in the Vaughan Williams piece was worth all the effort of the weekend. It was sublime. A flawless rendition both days. Kudos to Gail!

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