06 March 2009

Pierre Boulez conducting the final movement of Janacek's Sinfonietta

I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to/watch this one:

Thursday morning fun

Yesterday I had an extravagant experience: sitting in on a rehearsal of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez. They were doing the final run-through for the evening program featuring, among other things, Stravinsky's ballet with songs--Pulcinella.

It all started when one of Jon's senior associates gave him a pass for 2 to attend a CSO reshearsal. This was a perk given to contributors to the orchestra. Jon and I were very excited and my boss very cheerfully granted me a few hours of vacation when she heard about the opportunity. We had grand plans of breakfast together and then 2.5 hrs of joyous listening in the lovely Symphony Center.

As the plans grew, so did my excitement, until it all came crashing down. Monday morning Jon informed me that he had a conflict on Thursday--a meeting at work that he was convening and directing, and which was taking place at the same time as the second half of the rehearsal. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. Not only could Jon not be with me, I wouldn't even be able to go. He had the pass and we were not going to see each other before the Thursday morning meeting.

Jon, being in need of a computer and an internet connection, decided to come into the city on Wednesday night. Not only would I get a chance to see him, but he was bringing the pass;-) I tried to find someone to take his place, but in the end it was just me.

I showed up at the concert hall after a long morning (that is another post) to be greated by a lobby full of gray heads. Being firmly in the non-ageist category, I don't mind gray heads at all. However, it is a bit unnerving to find yourself the youngest person in a group by several Decades! How could I forget that the primary audience of mid-morning events is the retired crowd? Not to mention that this was an event open to donors only, which also requires you to have some spare change. Not my usual crowd, but an interesting one, nonetheless.

One of the best things about this performance/rehearsal was that it was open seating through out the hall except for a couple of reserved boxes. I was able to listen to the entire event from Box J! That is the box above and slightly to the left of the double doors in the picture above!

Pierre Boulez was French to the core and an entertaining conductor. It was a bit disconcerting to hear such beautiful music coming from men and women dressed in everything from tracksuits, to flannel shirts and jeans, to business casual wear. However, one of the highlights was from the first piece, Janácek's Sinfonietta. It calls for 12 trumpets lined up in the back of the orchestra. In both the first and fifth movements they are supposed to stand up when they play. Boulez was very picky about when and how this would happen: it must be all together, and it must NOT look like jack-in-the-boxes! They went over which measures it was supposed to take place, and how they were to rise. We saw/listened to that several times:-)

The weather was sunny and warming, the music was amazing and it was REALLY hard to go back to work! I can't wait to until summer and all the marvelous free music in Grant Park.

photo compliments of margotat at InstantEncore