Saturday, December 13, 2008

'Tis the Season

Last night's rehearsal was one of those kinds of rehearsals that I hate. We are preparing a holiday program with a mixed bag of music including a medley of this, a smidgen of that and encompassing a large chorus, a children's choir, dancers, two emcees, and of course, us, the orchestra.

Space on stage is very tight. Everything is miked so there are wires and boxes underfoot and microphone stands everywhere blocking your view of the conductor. We violins are squeezed in front of all the percussion and so close to each other that one false move sends your bow into your stand partner's face or causes the scroll of your neighbor's violin on the other side to smack you in the ribs. (It happened to me last night when my neighbor sneezed.) There is a blue line marked on the stage which we cannot cross because a scrim comes down at some point, a fence goes up at another, and after hours the fire screen comes down. Space backstage is equally tight with all the props and extra people hanging about.

Several players were late or borderline late because of miserable traffic on the freeways. Getting them to their seats required climbing over instrument cases and people's feet followed by all the readjusting as they claimed their space to play. Tension was high as we read through the mountain of material. The conductor's tempi were all too fast as he was under the gun to get everything done in the allotted time. No overtime for us. Bowings (the bane of my existence) were mostly marked but in a few pieces we had not done before, they were not marked at all. The section leaders are still working out what they want to do.

And the lights... Did I mention the lights? Stand lights wouldn't work or were too dim. My stand partner (bless her) brought an extra light from home for us to use. House and stage lights were erratic and the conductor was totally in the dark for most of the rehearsal (not a pun, he's a smart guy) as the stage crew practiced what they had to do.

We get one more rehearsal (for a grand total of two) before the first performance when suddenly it will all come together. The conductor will relax (somewhat). The singers will swell with pride and the dancers will give their all. Meanwhile, the orchestra musicians will bring their years of experience to focus on the job at hand and do things that were not possible in the rehearsals. And the audience will love it.

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