The 2010 Nashville Symphony EarShot Blog: An Amazing Day
[Ed. Note: This is the third installment of Michael Rickleton's blog from the American Composers Orchestra Earshot readings at the Nashville Symphony. His first installment is here and the second installment is here.—FJO]
Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 11:41 p.m.—Today was amazing. We had breakfast this morning with Ed Harsh, president of Meet The Composer, and Cindi Hubbard, project director for EarShot. Both have been extremely nice and encouraging. It is quite evident that without their involvement, this EarShot program would not exist, and I know I’ve said it often but we are extremely grateful to them for this opportunity. As we arrived at the Schermerhorn Center we were once again met by Nashville Symphony representative Emma McLeod. Emma has been extremely welcoming and all of her prep work has made the event that much more enjoyable. The Nashville Symphony has gone out of its way to make our experience one of a kind. They’ve even gone as far as to provide each composer with a private dressing room (which by the way is about as big as my apartment in Baltimore).
After a quick meeting to go over logistics for the day, each composer met one-on-one with Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero. Maestro Guerrero is wonderfully approachable and it was more than evident that he was not “just here.” He had clearly spent time with each of our scores and it is that leadership that was subsequently reflected in the orchestra. The players had rehearsed their parts, which made the day’s rehearsals exponentially productive.
It was exciting to hear the work of my colleagues. Maybe it’s just me, but I find something special in hearing music that I’ve never heard before. As for my piece, I was thrilled to learn that all my parts were in order. I knew they would be, but I feared that somehow I inadvertently screwed something up. But, everything went extremely well. There were a few notational errors that I missed (it seems as if I always miss something no matter how many times I go over them). However, they were nothing that hindered the reading in any way. The piece was originally written for four percussionists and I made a strong effort to reduce that number down to two. This presented some problems in the percussion set up and distribution of instruments, which I will need to readdress at some point. I was incredibly impressed with the amount of preliminary work done by Nashville principal percussionist Sam Bacco. He went the extra mile to make the reading a success and I really enjoyed his insight.
Following the rehearsals, we were able to sit down with representatives from each orchestral section to discuss any issues concerning our pieces (i.e. part preparation, writing for the instrument, notational issues). We discussed each individual piece and were able to receive first-hand criticism from members of the orchestra and the three mentoring composers (Jennifer Higdon, Robert Beaser, and Edgar Meyer)—an invaluable learning experience. I’m sure tomorrow will be an extension of the same. The only down side is that this experience ends tomorrow.