Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 17 - Concert venue

Queensland Performing Arts Centre, QPAC as it is better known. The Gothic Symphony event is part of its 25th year celebrations.

The most obvious difference between this concert hall and the Old Museum Building are the acoustics. The QPAC concert hall has much less reverb. Pretty much this means the sounds don't keep floating around and getting mixed up in the room. The orchestra and chorus sounded much clearer, making for good listening and ensemble playing.

The morning session was for part 1, orchestra only. The chorus was also there with us but rehearsing in another part of the complex.

The goal was to run through each of the first 3 movements without stopping if possible. I think at least one movement went without stopping. The others we need a touch up here and there. While we have improved during the past 2 weeks, the past 2 weeks did catch up with some of us, despite have a full days rest the day before. There were a number of moments where the brass chops were a bit weak (blips blups and splupps) and a few mental brain farts. Overall, we progressed extremely well in the past 2 weeks and we were happy with what we achieved in the morning. We knew that with an extra rehearsal before the performance our "chops" and mental capacity would be at their peak.

After lunch, with chorus onboard with us, we rehearsed Part 2. No movement was run straight through as a few chorus parts needed rehearsing still. The orchestra again was patient as John put the final polish to the chorus. No dramas today with the chorus, just the same deal with the orchestra, to get everything just right.

With the concert hall's massive organ accompanying some chorus parts and also with orchestra, the chorus was sounding awesome in some places.There were a couple of weaker parts (that John rehearsed) but it was no different than the orchestra in the morning, a few mental mistakes and so on.

The confidence was there by the end of the day. We knew that this was going to be something special tomorrow.

Arriving at the artists entrance at the concert brought back memories of performing here with the QLD Youth orchestras. It was 19 years ago that I last ventured through those security doors. The green room and path way to the orchestra's "dressing room" was as it was back in the day. To be quite honest, why would it have changed?

The orchestra platform was massive! Nick and his team did and awesome job of setting it up just right for us. The choir stalls were already there as was the organ. Piece of cake with that set up. The risers had a fair bit of movement/flex in them. Tim constantly made sure his trombones on his stands didn't topple over when the percussion walked past us.

I was noticing the platform set up and safety bits of timber at the rear of the risers. These bits stop the chairs from being pushed back and over the edge of the risers. The one behind Geoff Payne, trumpet extraordinaire, was the only safety bit, not missing but busted off. I notified him of this situation and said he should move forward a bit just to be safe, as his chair was right on the edge (like his brilliant playing). No sooner had I returned to my chair, the back legs of his chair had gone over the edge. No real dramas but I'm sure this woke him up better than his morning coffee did. Nick was at the right place at the right time and got it fixed by lunch time.

Note to other co principal trumpet, remove mute before placing trumpet back on trumpet stand!

Among our already small contingent of international visitors and performers, Karim Elmahmoudi, a composer and bass trombone player from Los Angeles was arriving that morning, direct to Brisbane. A couple of months ago when the Gothic organising was in full flight, he contacted me on FaceBook after I posted that I accepted the tuba 1 position. Unfortunately he was not accepted for a bass trombone part but he was still coming over for this unique event and performance.

As a composer, he has known of Harvergal Brian and all his works, not just this Gothic Symphony. He even pulled out the full score of this symphony to show me various stuff in this work. I thought he bought it for this trip and concert. Nope, he has had this score for years. Now I'm starting to understand why he flew all this was, just for a concert.

He has an easy accent to listen to. No deep southern drawl or illegible words or speech patterns. I was expecting someone much taller but I guess you can't read too much into digital photos! He was well organised with his flight scedule, arrival details and concert attendance plans. The organisers welcomed him and showed their appreciation for his efforts to not only this production but also to his music and Havergal apprecition.

Karim on right
Unfortunately I couldn't stay after rehearsal and introduce him to Brisbane. I'm sure that many of the people that he met would have kept him company and chatted with him afterwards. Especially if they stayed at the same hotel as him.

13 basses! I honestly did not think that our "dirty dozen" sized bass section could get any bigger but it did. Today we welcomed our 13th bass player. What and awesome looking section it is. The sounded great too. Yes, there was room on stage for our extra friend.

That evening was the last ever Gothic practice session for myself. I brushed up on a couple of parts and worked on playing as relaxed and as easy as possible. Now just to relax and take it easy until the performance.

Stay tuned for the second last time with the Gothic Tuba Experience

John Szkutko

No comments:

Post a Comment