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What a great topic, I have a few from my community college orchestra director:
- "This part is supposed to be like an adventure; play like you're a pirate but also light like an elf. You're all pirate elves."
- "Not a bad try, now add in dynamics, style, correct timing and confidence."
- (regarding a technical clarinet solo) "Alright, if you can't get this part down we'll have to give it to the trumpets and god knows they don't need the ego boost."
There was also a time where everyone kept playing super heavy during a really light dance-like section; so he made everyone sing, in rhymth "I am a little fairy, a pretty pretty fairy".
Time to add to the collection.
Semipro orchestra, concert program including Walton viola concerto and Beethoven's 6th
Conductor: Stop looking so important, Alan, when you're just going "bum... bum...bum..." ... save it for the harder parts!
Alan (associate principal cellist): What's the facial expression for being unimportant?
"Just sing West Side Story, and you'll be fine. You don't sing that out of tune, do you?" (sings tritone out of tune) "Maria..."
"If you take too long [to find a bar number] I may start singing. I'm tempted to be a prima donna."
"It should almost make you want to throw up, you know?" (mimes cello tremolo, then pretends to vomit)
"Let's move some furniture here." (referring to low cello/bass rumbling in the "storm" movement of Beethoven's 6th)
"There's this part that needs to be more cloudy... I'm not asking you to play inaccurately, that's not what I mean."
Community orchestra, rehearsing for a pops concert
"...and you can be all mezzo-pahuna here."
"Con brio. Not Neufchatel."
"That texture needs to be there. It's like ice cream with no chunks in it: disappointing."
"Tonight, tonight, we'll count real hard tonight..." (rehearsing selections from West Side Story)
"Let's try that for fright-reading."
"Keep up the forte when it goes down. Like the Hindenburg."
"First one, you're dance-fighting in the street, second one you're embarrassed."
(on Rossini) "He takes this time bomb and puts it in there, and the key is not to get too excited about it... eventually the audience thinks it's all going to be the same, and then it explodes."
"Up, down, up down, up do-own, u-up, down, u-up down. Those are the original lyrics... Are you titillated by our bow talk, brass and winds?"
Conductor: The violinists will stand up and stab you if you rush here.
Concertmaster: Are you allowing us to do that?
Conductor: I would support it.
Semipro orchestra, rehearsing for a concert to open a new theater, including a repeat of Beethoven's 6th along with opera arias and a newly-composed piece
Percussionist: We have to move all this stuff over here every rehearsal. We need help.
"We're going to bring in one of those cursing jars. Every mistake we find in the score..." (mimes dropping a coin into a jar) "We're going to buy chocolate for everyone with the composer's mistake jar."
(on the title of the new piece, "Jubilant burbs")
Conductor: What are burbs?
Trumpeter: Suburbs, I think.
Me: Why would they be jubilant?
Conductor: I was on the phone with Pablo when he sent me the name of the piece. And I mistook one letter for another, and I asked him, "Jubilant ... boobs? Why would you call it that?"
Conductor: He was not offended...
(on the discount code for orchestra members' friends and family) "Share it with your friends... unless you have very rich friends, in which case we'll give them a different code that will make them pay twice as much."
(to concertmaster and principal 2nd violin, in Vienna configuration) "Can you two see each other?" (ducks under music stand and raises baton as high as he can) "Aha!"
"I'd like to keep it in the tempo the composer wants. If I try to conduct this in 4..."(starts beating an extremely fast 4 while panting, then keels over)
"It needs to be more... street."
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