We’ll be doing a Community Play-In at the end of our Saturday night park concert - an arrangement of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (with all the vocal parts and the hard parts removed). The South Bend Symphony will be joined on stage with nearly fifty players from the community. These range from young high school students to senior citizens, and I think that this will end up being a thrill for us and for them.
We had a rehearsal the other night with these community players. Only a handful of symphony musicians were present, and we worked on an eight minute piece for two and a half hours, which felt to me like a recipe for a dreadful evening.
And it did feel interminable at first. The group started playing, and fell apart completely at the first time change. We corrected, restarted, and fell apart again in some string section counterpoint. I was already checking my watch.
The work we did was not as directed as it would have been in a professional group. Pretty much we just played little sections until we got them and then strung them together into bigger sections. It took about eight times longer to rehearse this piece into playability than it would have for our orchestra. But compared to the rehearsal pace of a high school orchestra, or a municipal band, we put together a difficult piece in the snap of a finger!
At the beginning of the session I was seeing panic on the faces of some string players. And by the end no one was afraid. Beethoven sounded like Beethoven. It was absolutely exciting to watch the progress that this very mixed group made over such a short period of time.
When we perform it Saturday night, with these newly empowered community musicians joining the full SBSO, the effect will be terrific. Our orchestra is always trying to build ties within the community, and MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER is such a great way to do it. Yes, performing on the Morris stage with a full house in passive attendance is our real job, but here at the very end of summer I am so pleased to have this chance to collaborate with our audience!
This final outdoor concert of this summer season will be Saturday at 7. Now, all of my concerns about parks concerts still apply - the sweat, the bugs, the interminable pops charts. But I’m looking forward to this one. Details HERE.