Sunday, January 15, 2012

Berlin, Teil 3: Pre-Philharmonie concerts

We had a total of three concerts: an Erlebnis-Konzert ("experience concert") at the RBB, a school concert, and our final concert in the Philharmonie. Here I'll be talking about the first two concerts.

The Erlebnis-Konzert took place on 3 January. We played through our entire program in the rehearsal hall at the RBB, all dressed up and with an audience of about 30 or so invited guests, sitting in various sections of the orchestra. As this was our first chance to play through everything, without stopping, there was certainly a slight sense of nervousness throughout the orchestra. For my part, given how difficult the music was, I did have that slight sense of dread that things might not go too well.

On the day of this concert we had a full day of rehearsals, at least 6 hours total if not more. By the time we had our dinner break before the concert I was exhausted. I tried to relax as much as possible while I could, but by the time I was warming up before the concert, all the relevant muscles had tightened up, and I was actually too tired to do much at all.

Before starting the concert AP Kähler gave a spoken introduction on Pettersson to the audience, extremely interesting to me of course but perhaps a little too long for those in the orchestra who couldn't understand German. Unfortunately, during this time, sitting in my chair with cello ready, I just tightened up even more. Consequently, during our first piece, the Barefoot Songs, I was really nervous. The fact that I had a tiny little solo didn't help. Anyway, the after the songs I relaxed a bit, and the symphony went fairly well. 

The following day we gave two short concerts at the Wald-Oberschule (Wald Upper school) in West Berlin. Although I am all for music in schools and introducing this great music to new audiences, there were several challenges. First of all, one could not expect an acoustic even remotely similar to the Philharmonie, or the RBB for that matter. We played in the school cafeteria, which had a stage, and the acoustic was, to put it bluntly, dry. My ability to concentrate was minimal, having slept poorly the night before, being so wired from our concert the night before. Pictures were being taken of us non-stop as we were playing, with flash, so I found it very distracting that at consistent but unpredictable intervals my music would flash white (you can see the some of the pictures of us here). Finally, there was a sizable portion of the audience from each concert that just did not stop talking.  It wasn't so bad during the first concert, where there were younger kids most likely talking out of excitement and curiosity. The second concert (where we played the symphony) was for teenagers, and I think those who were talking non-stop could have cared less about the music. I did not play well that day, and I think our performance overall could have been better as well.

I'll post one more entry about the dangers of playing Pettersson for children, before writing my last entry in this series, about our concert in the Philharmonie.

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