Well, the premiere came and went, my ears have finally unblocked enough for me to actually HEAR some music (don't you hate those high-altitude plane rides?), my bags are now emptied (and don't you HATE living out of a suitcase?), and life might... just MIGHT, return to a somewhat normal pace now.
I'm seriously considering renaming it the "Seattle Scherzo".
This recording is pieced together from the previous day's rehearsal. Sadly, the concert wasn't recorded because of a technical glitch with the digital recorder. (A real shame, too, because their performance of the Grieg "Holberg Suite" was STUNNING). So please bear in mind that this "live" recording is not the best performance the group gave.
The trip was wonderful. I enjoyed the beautiful city. Sadly, we really weren't staying long enough to visit it more. We had the pleasure of meeting both Gary and Tom Hopkins (who struggled out of his sickbed and dragged himself to the concert hall).
Of course, the few days we were there were quite enough to get us hopelessly addicted to great coffee (our hotel had free coffee lying around on every horizontal surface available... such an insidious plan!).
And it's looking good for a few possible commissions and future performances of some other works on the West coast. Ah, as they say in French: "nul n'est prophète dans son pays". Gotta admit, it will be a pleasure to hop a plane and fly back for any other concerts.
A great deal of thanks and applause are due to Matthew Weiss, concertmaster of Octava Chamber Orchestra, for making the concert possible and for having interest in my little scherzo in the first place. And a great rousing round of applause to the brave musicians who took on the challenge of performing the Scherzo under such difficult circumstances. It's a veritable tour-de-force of string virtuosity, loaded with technical difficulty after technical difficulty (I REALLY don't recommend following in my footsteps for any of you out there considering writing a string piece) which is nigh impossible to put together in two measly rehearsals.
Brave and beautiful, they really pulled it off. Honestly, I don't think my piece makes them sound good. They performed Grieg's "Holberg Suite" and I highly recommend you listen to them perform THAT piece. They sounded like the strings of the Moscow Philharmonic.
Concertmaster Weiss did the impossible, as well: he made me enjoy a Vivaldi violin concerto. I am NOT a fan of that particular composer, however Matthew's rich tone and the beautiful singing quality of his playing won me over.
Again, bravo to Octava Chamber Orchestra, under the expressive baton of maestro Johan Louwersheimer (who by the way, conducted the rehearsals and concert whilst suffering from a terrible migraine! A brave man, he.)
Sunday we had the pleasure to attend Michel Edward's premiere of his "Scherzo pour cordes".
Michel was introduced at eh performance by the Music Director, Johan Louwersheimer, as "Canada's Best Living Composer".
Michel's music was included in an impressive roster of works for string orchestra.The repertoire included: Vivaldi's Concerto for 2 Violins in A minor, Corelli's Concerto Grosso "Christmas Concerto", "Canon for an August Afternoon" by Gavin Borchert, the Grieg Holberg Suite for String Orchestra.
Michel's "Scherzo pour cordes" stood out. He made full use of the possibilities of the instruments. There were complex harmonies and interplays between the stringed instruments. The ending was dramatic and left us wanting more. His work really stood up well to the masters.
The concert took place at the Good Shepard Chapel, a historic Seattle landmark situated on 11 acres that now serves as an artistic and community campus. This performance space features high ceilings, wooden floors, columns, and a permanent stepped platform. The acoustics were excellent and just right for string orchestra.
The Octava Chamber Orchestra is led by concertmaster Matthew Weiss (who is a member of this forum).The orchestra consisted of 8 violins, 3 violas, 4 celli, one bass and a harpsichord.The level of the musicianship was excellent as these players perform with the Seattle Symphony and other orchestras in the area.
It was a real pleasure to meet Michel and his mother. And Tom (recovering from the flu) and Amy attended the concert as well. I'll post pictures soon.
THANK YOU ALL FOR SENDING MICHEL TO HIS PREMIER. Michel made sure to mention the generous support of this community in his program.
It was a fantastic performance. You all made this possible. I am sure that this performance will be an important milestone and stepping in the career of "Canada's Best Living Composer".
OH! and I wanted to add that the generous financial support of this community will be reflected on the first page of the score as well.. I'm adding a mention there. So, everytime the Scherzo is performed, this community will be thanked
Sounds like they sure had it together in that rehersal, to bad the live one with applause didn't get recorded. I'm not a string player but it sounds even to my ears like full of technical difficulty, such as maintaining such a constant clear precision of those lively riffs of dissonant chords, from start to finish. Bravo!
Cool that you got to meet Gary and Tom there, and sorry to hear that Tom is sick. If Tom has the same flu i have (but getting better now thank God!) it is just mind boggling that he went, because you go from shivering to feeling like it is 150 degrees and back to shivering, and doing that for a while makes you delirious and see things that aren't even there, and flashes of light on your eyes even when you close them.
PS: Go get a flu shot right now, you don't want this!!
Well gald to hear the performance went well, even though the recording of it didn't, maybe this will get performed again soon as a result of this one sounding great.
Thank you so much, both Michel and Gary, for the completely thrilling report.
And I really appreciate you posting both the GPO and live performance (ok-rehearsal) MP3s. It's such a fascinating thing to compare the two.
Despite imperfections which you are sensitive to, Michel, the live recording sounds exciting and impressive. It's such a wonderful piece of music - I think the orchestra rose to the occasion of playing it with what sounds like a great deal of enthusiasm.
Just the best news - Thanks for letting us in on the details!
Congratulations Michel. I am really happy to hear that everything went so well. I had wondered how things were going, if you were stressed or enjoying the ride. I am about to start listening to the piece in both forms and am forcing myself to listen to the GPO version before the real thing.
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