It's just a few weeks until the premiere performance of Step Up, the collaborative piece for Adopt a Composer by Gaynor Barradell and the Edinburgh Concert Band. Mike Knox, Trombone & ECB Librarian reflects on their recent rehearsal.
Another rehearsal devoted entirely to Step Up with our adopted composer Gaynor & her Making Music mentor both present. Having been given the completed score a month ago with "note bashing" rehearsals in between, tonight was a real opportunity to start polishing the piece under the watchful ear of the composer.
When a musical ensemble tackles a new piece there is always a certain amount of bedding in as the players become comfortable with their parts. Once that staged is reached, players can focus less on their own parts and start to listen out for the parts in other sections. No mean feat when I have 3 trombones and 4 french horns to my right and a couple of euphoniums and tubas to my left.
Answers to players' questions begin to appear. Who has the melody when I'm playing the long notes that add harmony? How loud, or quiet should I be playing? How exactly is that glissando to be executed? Which other instruments share my line? How does the trombone section alternate between open, plunger and straight mutes in a short space of time without dropping them on the wooden floor and spoiling the music with an unwelcome clang? (Note to self; ask the trombones to bring a hand towel to rehearsals to lay on the floor.)
Under the baton of our MD Sarah the focus of the rehearsal was very much on dynamics and rhythmic precision. Without wishing to give away too much of the piece there are sections where contrasting rhythms overlap one another that require exact execution for the effect of the music to take hold. Time too was given to a section of the piece that features solos from across the band over an "ad lib" repeated or cyclical measure. But perhaps I'm revealing too much. As always it was a pleasure to have Gaynor present to offer her thoughts and to coach and coax us as we rehearsed.
With only a few weeks to the premier performance we have a great piece of music, a great idea of what is required of us as players, and an idea of what is still to be done. I for one am looking forward to June the 16th; and I'm sure I'm not the only one.