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University orchestra, short program (new piece and Sibelius violin concerto):
(lights go out)
(starts disco dancing)
(to stage manager)
"Dave, are you trying to save money in the middle of our rehearsal?"
"And very erratically, we arrive at letter E."
"Can you give more on the forte, trumpets? I never thought I'd say this."
(on missing parts for the following concert being distributed)
"Anyone else missing something? It's all for the same price. . . . This is like when you go to a really good restaurant and the waiter remembers everything. Just write it down, man! When I'm in Buenos Aires, I go to restaurants and there are groups of 20 or more people all ordering different things, and the waiters insist on remembering everything. Anyway, I digress."
"I'm pretty sure that's just a missing plus sign. Play it pizz, if she [the composer] doesn't like it she can sue me... all the way from Paris!"
"It reminds me of my chickens. I love my chickens, so it's a nice memory. . . . Don't let your phobia of chickens get in the way, play the part."
"That was nice, but I need more craziness in the cellos. Like... AAAAAAAUGH, the water's too hot in the shower!"
Today: "First violins, why do you keep messing up that rhythm? Oh, I know - it's because you haven't seen a quaver [eighth note] for half an hour"
To principal cello: "Please don't tap your foot - it's offputting when it's out of time with me."
Re Dall'Abaco parts full of hairpins. "I just want louds and softs. Ignore all the Wagner rubbish" (hairpins and clutter are 19th century editorial additions)
Another concert done, which means another set of rehearsal quotes.
Laura Schwartz, Figment (new piece)
Carl Nielsen, Violin Concerto
Jean Sibelius, Symphony No. 2
"It's all syncopated. You're a goat! Put your antlers there, you're chasing the whole orchestra! . . . From L again. Syncopation goat!"
"Let's do that and add a bit more to the confusion."
"Life's not fair, you know? It may be your B-flat, but it may not be somebody else's. You'll need to negotiate and agree on something."
"It should not be together... no, it should be together, just not at the same time!"
"This reminds me of a joke I've heard about Finns. I suppose it could also apply to Swedes, but anyway: when you meet them in the street, what's the difference between a Finnish introvert and a Finnish extrovert? The Finnish introvert, when he's talking to you, looks straight down at his own feet. The Finnish extrovert also looks straight down, but looks at your feet. That's how this needs to sound. Even though it's really special, it needs to be in the background. If Sibelius were Italian, he'd be shouting it all over."
"Brass, at letter T: bells up, triple f, burn it."
"This reminds me of the show with the dolphin -- was it called Flipper? The violas ending: it's just Flipper. I can't think of anything else now."
"Before we start the scherzo, I just want to say the most important thing is to relax. You know how to play it. When you get nervous, that's when things happen like rushing and forgetting the dynamics. The best thing to do, where we are now, is to have a glass of wine and relax--DON'T have a glass of wine, just relax!"
Do you take notes, or record all these?
...scary too, because I understand them.
Thanks for all these quotes!
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there-under, under the sea!
Unfortunately I have a terrible memory and no smartphone.
My conductor Julian Williamson is very jovial, but he's less about jokes and more about historical anecdotes (he's approaching 80). "I’d studied piano and conducting" (quote from the link). He's also a violist.
The thing about Julian's humour is the context and his way of expressing himsef.
Today we played the first 4 bars (@40:39 - the link should go straight there, but it doesn't) and he stopped us and said, with a very slight hint of sarcasm, "this movement is an excellent example of when not to make any noise during a rest."
which was both witty and wise.
In a different movement where we had 8 D's followed by 8 Eb's, "it helps here if you wait for everyone to finish with their D's before you begin on your Eb's"
"This is not Flight of the Bumblebee. This is sempre forte... sempre annoying."
Conductor (from offstage): Where are the trumpets?
Trumpeter: Sir, we thought you stopped conducting.
Conductor (still offstage): The conductor is dead, keep playing!