PT69: “Communication is Key,” with JoAnn Falletta

Today we talk with JoAnn Falletta about what can set your conducting apart in an audition, how a conductor effectively communicates with an orchestra, and why we need live music now more than ever.

You will learn:

  • The difference between listening alone and listening to live music
  • How JoAnn is spending her time in self-quarantine
  • JoAnn’s advice for anybody taking auditions
  • What you need on the podium when you step into an audition
  • How to communicate effectively with an orchestra
  • The best new violin concertos

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Transcript

Note: the following transcript was generated by A.I. and has not been edited for content or accuracy.

It’s kind of, you know, strange time that we’re living in right now. And so, you know, I thought maybe we could do a little bit of an episode where we just kind of talk about the importance of what we do and, uh, keeping it alive, even after whatever is going on right now, you know, finishes out its course because I know I’ve had to show my season down from which everyone has, you know? So it was a tough time for us,
spk_2
so, right? No, you’re right. And, you know, we’ve been talking about this a lot, of course, all of us. About how we can, how we can keep people focused on music. And I think there is a silver lining to this, Um, because we realize how much people miss what they may have taken for granted. No. I mean what all of us take a little bit for granted. But people people are really missing the music. And there seemed to be hungry for anything. Sometimes people are putting together these, uh, you know, playing Beethoven nine from different different apartments and getting it all together or even little videos of a solo playing our Our bass player had a video on a trumpet player and so on. People seem very interested in it, but I think if we can continue to stay connected with our audiences in whatever way, a message, um ah, little, a little of video that we play some way of staying connected. We’re broadcasting past concerts on the radio so that we can reach our people every week on make a regular schedule of it. But I think in the end, people going to have to reevaluate what life means. And I think we’re hitting that just about now where people are saying okay, we can’t We can’t live like this much longer without people around us without being and concerts together. So it could turn out to be something that, um, makes people realize how much they they need music and how much it means to them. Um, in a in a very real way.
spk_1
Mmm. Yeah. And I think we’re also seeing a lot of a lot of creativity from groups that, you know, suddenly, everything we do is is totally gone. So what can we d’oh In the meantime,
spk_2
it’s right right at their A lot of those things have been so well done, and you can imagine, as you know, the time it takes to get those things together. Uh, we’re trying to do what In Buffalo, we haven’t even decided on a piece yet, so I mean, that’s where which piece should replay together stage So but, um but it does. It does make us all rethink who you are and what we’re doing and what it means to people, and I think that’s good. I think it’s very good to have that time to to analyze how, ah, how music makes people feel.
spk_1
Yeah, and the the you know, the togetherness of it for sure. And you know, I’m you know, we can listen to all the music we can, but it, like, right now when I can’t actually go to a concert hall and when I can’t actually, you know, play in a group. I’m really appreciating that difference between live and recorded music, the sound and the experience and the everything. Right now
spk_2
you are so right. And there’s something special about that almost in define herbal. Why is it different listening with people around you Now everyone is taking it in in their own way, right? They have got their own response to that music, but yet it feels different. If they’re they’re with us. We know we are experiencing something that’s the same. It’s almost like being in church. I suppose if one is a very religious person, you know, you could stay at home and pray, I guess. But But when you’re together in a group, there’s something that amplifies that experience and music. Hearing music together is something that is really extraordinary.
spk_1
What do you What do you think is is the difference.
spk_2
I think it’s that we’re connected through our humanness without without thinking about it. You know, we were were sitting there in the dark and being quiet and where observing exactly the same thing. And we, our bodies, our minds are reacting in similar ways. And just knowing that, just feeling that you feel the person next to you lean forward at a spot that’s really, you know, getting softer, or or you can actually see their face reflect the sort of joy or emotion that they’re feeling that enhanced it for us, too. And there’s something wonderful about feeling, that togetherness, that we were where we’re reacting in the same way as human beings and that that makes us all one. So we can’t do that, listening over the Internet or listening to a CD or whatever, but we certainly can do it in the concert hall.
spk_1
Yeah, it’s kind of it’s kind of like, you know, go into a scary movie if you sitting in that dark theater with a bunch of strangers that you don’t know, You know, all this stuff in those tense situations are a lot more intense than when you’re sitting at home on the couch with
spk_2
white song. That’s right. That’s right. If someone next to a screaming, it doesn’t mean we just we are. We are people who need people around us. I mean, that’s that’s I think what everyone has found out in this. We need people around us, and we’re really missing that. So
spk_1
uh huh, yeah, I’m you know, it’s it’s tough for everybody right now, but I’m really excited to see how things change moving forward because, you know, there will be a sudden resurgence of everybody going out and doing stuff all of this up on that. It’s
spk_2
going to be so joyful you think would come back, whether it’s May or June. Those concerts. I know that we’re planning to get Buffalo to do a big free concert to everywhere when we can play again and just welcome everyone there and celebrate being together and here in great music
spk_1
and making and making the great music as well. Just being back on the stage in there with our colleagues again is no way the pianist out there like what’s going on? You’re used
spk_2
to being alone in their room. Yeah, but, uh, but I think everyone is missing it. Everyone is missing being with other people and especially making music together.
spk_1
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So what? What are you spending your days doing without without rehearsals in it?
spk_2
For a few days, I was really sort of lost, and I was wandering around the house. I realized the whole day had, you know, slip by and I hadn’t done anything. I just didn’t know what to do. But, um uh, I’ve been doing a lot of editing of our concerts for the broadcasts, and that’s been very helpful for me to just, you know, polishing it up and getting some noise out and fixing a few things that that’s helped having meetings, phone meetings with the musicians once a week has been helpful. I’ve been doing a lot of master classes with the mostly with university groups or youth orchestras answering questions about playing an orchestra. And you know what are the skills and what should we do and and how do we grow? Is musicians, And that’s been helpful to, um, to be able to talk to people at a time when they’re not distracted by classes, I guess, or before even and I’ve been practicing in a group practice, uh, in a group practice situation, which is very much fun. I was invited to join a group in Virginia the the, uh, governor school, you know, which I worked with a lot. So I know those those young people. They said, Why don’t you come practice with us? You know, every day for a now, er So I thought, What a great way to sort of focus on guitar for a little while because so I’ve been practicing my guitar, so it’s it’s a diff. It’s a different life, but, uh ah, it’s Ah, it’s something we’re all going to get through in our own way and hopefully will gain something from it that that, you know, we didn’t have before.
spk_1
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Is the group practice like like you’re in the same area and just it’s separated? What does that look like?
spk_2
It’s it’s on. It’s on zoom, and we’re only zoom, and it’s it’s actually muted. So you know, you don’t hear everyone practicing, but the idea is that you. You plan your practice schedule every day at 11 and every day at two. Go into this practice room and you see everyone doing their thing. And, you know, you might wave to a few people, but I found it actually helped me focus, you know, a focus. Not not be distracted by e mails or texts or phone calls. Just practice. And it’s been very good. So that’s been fun.
spk_1
You so Yeah. So, like a standing a standing meeting, I I it just really helpful because then you lock away that time. That’s right. And, you know, I’ve been wanting to encourage our podium time listeners to use this time for score, study and getting together. And, you know, you need the structure, your days when there is no structure.
spk_2
You’re right about that. But you’re right about that, you know, And I’ve been thinking of all the things we could do somehow I don’t have really organize them. But if every conductor were able to send into a big, you know list somewhere a new piece of music, like a new 21st century piece of music that they’ve done that they really loved so that we could know about that because there’s a lot of new music we don’t know about. If we could, you know, just form a kind of ah ah unified AA meeting place where we could say, OK, I just I just in the day I’ve just on the Danny Elfman Violin Concerto and it’s fantastic, that kind of thing, you know? So look into that. You know, it’s I’ve tried it. I performed it and it’s great. So So maybe those things will start springing up to
spk_1
That’s right. Last time we talked, you had just done. You were just on the violent material.
spk_2
Yes, I’ve done it. Now I’ve done it twice, and it’s it’s just spectacular.
spk_1
It came because it came through Denver last. Um, yeah, Sandy Cameron came through and did it last May and I was here. Oh, my God. I went toe officials. It was incredible. Yeah, and I’m so glad you like. The rehearsals were great, but then sitting and actually watching it in a concert, it finally like the whole full scale finally hit me and that big climax right before the end. I know you like so much more than it was in the rehearsal
spk_2
I know at her emotional involvement in that piece is is just uncomfortable. But it’s just it’s thrilling to think that pieces written like last year or two years could have so much impact on us right away. I mean, and it’s not easy as you heard. I mean
spk_1
Oh, my God knows
spk_2
it’s not easy. It’s not It’s not. It’s not simple music. It’s on easy listening music. It’ll But it’s unbelievably powerful. Yeah, yeah. So Well, I’m glad you know it.
spk_1
Oh, yeah, Yeah. And I mean, Luke and I talk about it all the time. Still think that the CDs in our car uh, yeah, yeah, incredible. The youth or fissures that you’re doing is this Are these do master classes as well?
spk_2
There are master classes, but of course, without music, I mean, they’re they’re talking basically about I mean, the one I did yesterday was a lot about thes. Were university students getting ready to take auditions a lot about Okay, help us know what to do. How do we get ready to take on orchestra logician? How do we prepare mentally? How would prepare musically? What are people looking for? Um what should we expect when we arrive? And all of those details? Because the audition, the audition process can be very frightening. And so that that was helpful, I think for them Thio ask questions about that and and especially to ask. Well, what are you listening for? You know what? What do you want? What do you want to hear? What? What makes me go on to the next level and or not? Go on to the next level. So So sometimes talking it through can help.
spk_1
So what is that for players with what an audition like, signifies that next level.
spk_2
Well, you know, I told him that part of the process is their mental preparation. Because when they arrive at an audition Justus conducting sometimes a conducting audition, too, You know, for a job. Uh uh, you you’re there with all of a sudden, all of these tuba players who happen to be talking about to audition this all these two more players and they all sound great and you’re practicing in the same room with them. I mean, how do you How do you form that sort of safe’s place for yourself? Where you could just concentrate on what you’re doing and not be mentally jarred by what’s happening and the preparation to sort of slow down your pulse. Slow down your anxiety. Take your time. When you’re taking your audition, there’s no need to rush. If you want to play it again, almost every committee will let you play it again. A certain excerpts. So, um uh, for conductors, I tell them the more the more calm they are, the more connected they are to the musicians. Um, yeah, because one of them was a conductor. And he asked me, Okay, what do I need to get on the podium when I’m auditioning for an assistant conductor job? Well, the musicians need to feel confident that you are confident and uncomfortable and that the main the main focus. The most important thing in the room is that orchestra. It’s not really you, it’s them. So if you can turn your focus outward immediately to what they’re doing and to listen to them and to react to them, they’ll know that that you have that level of confidence to do that. It’s I mean, talking is one, but I think sometimes hearing it, hearing what musicians are looking for can be helpful.
spk_1
So right, right before we got on the phone, I was listening to an interview with Simone Young and, um Alondra Della Pera. Think famous. And and one of the questions was about nerves. And they were both saying, If you have, you know, if you’re feeling nervous, everybody does. But then you’re thinking about yourself, you know, focus on the orchestra. So
spk_2
now that’s hard to do. Because, of course, you know, you’re being so you’re thinking about let’s say you’re doing Appalachian Spring and you’re thinking about oh, well, I get those leader changes, right? I mean, I practice them, but I don’t know. And of course, the orchestra always sounds a little bit different than you anticipate. They play in a different way. So So you’re I mean, I understand why people are nervous, but but they’re absolutely right. Focus on the orchestra and not on yourself and focus on on them with the with certain warmth in a certain a certain openness to them. Um, not like you’re trying to impress them like they’re trying to make music with, you know, if you think of it that way. Okay, we’re gonna play this this excerpt for this movement or whatever. We’re gonna make music together. I think they so appreciate that.
spk_1
So here, if you’re judging auditions and you have to either players or conductors, whatever. Whatever you’d like toe to say, um that are basically equal in just about everything. What were some? What are some of the really settle things that would then, you know, make your decision toe push one of them through
spk_2
communication. I think in some way, uh, for a conductor the communication to the orchestra of body language confidence, but also collegiate ality to the orchestra. Because, of course, you know, the assistant or soc conductors drink all kinds of difficult concerts on all different in all different styles, and and that connection of friendship, in a way is important. So I think communication is is the key. And, you know, generally, if it happens that we can’t quite make a decision, we will bring people back for a concert to see them. Okay, with more times. Okay, Now you’ve got to rehearsals and two full rehearsals. And let’s see how that pacing is. Same thing with with the with the principal flute you’d bring someone back to play a whole concert with the orchestra, and usually it becomes clear. Then,
spk_1
yeah, I’ve always wondered since, you know, since it once you get to a certain level, you know it’s not, it’s no longer and has been for a while a question of technical ability or, you know, musicianship. And then, you know, what are the things that then separate people at that top level?
spk_2
I think it’s connection and communication, right? And, uh, and not everyone has the same response from different orchestras. It’d be, ah, lot what they are like And, uh, what they’re looking for in a conductor and what they have had before, what they haven’t had. And it’s quite mysterious to tell you the truth.
spk_1
Yeah, the, ah, the conductor here in Colorado. Brett Mitchell, I think. When I when I first interviewed him, he described it as that for like, the audition is kind of like a first date like you’re just trying to figure out if you like each other, and sometimes sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s not.
spk_2
That’s right. Yeah, yeah, and sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. And it doesn’t mean it’s the conductor’s fault or the orchestra’s fault. I mean, just like some, even in a rehearsal, even audition behind the screen. Sometimes it just doesn’t go well. It’s not your day, you know. And so So, uh, but it’s It’s important not to get discouraged to when it’s it’s easy in our profession to get discouraged. So, yeah, you got a guard against that? Yeah.
spk_1
And so you’re doing you’re doing this workshop with with Buffalo coming up. Could you talk about that a little bit?
spk_2
Well, this workshop, I I’m not sure if it’s gonna remain this way because we’ve had some complaints. But it’s supposed to be for all women. And this is the idea of the Conductor’s Guild. The conductor’s killed idea was that it would be, ah, session for women only because they felt that there might be some questions that they had, that they would feel more comfortable. So I said, Well, if you really feel like that, okay. But I’m certainly open to it not being for women only, and and they will get to spend time first with a smaller group from the Buffalo Phil Monica and then with the Buffalo Fila, Monica and and I think that, um, that’s an important. It’s an important situation because an orchestra like Buffalo plays quite far behind. The be on and sometimes young conductors are not used to that, and this is a great chance for them in a safe environment to see what that feels like and to see how they can accommodate it. For that reason alone, I think it’s it’s it’s important cause most larger orchestras, um, do do play behind the beat and it can be very confusing. So have you been in that situation where you where you try that?
spk_1
I mean, I think the only time I could say that that that happened was when I was doing I was doing Brahms three for like a conducting final. The orchestra doesn’t normally play behind the beat, but because of the nature of the first movement of problem, straight right, right, you know, and I was messing with me a little bit, but I’ve never really had that experience,
spk_2
right, right, But it was, it’s good. It’s good to do that. And, you know, conducting is is so again so mysterious of how orchestras work with conductors and how they respond so So in a in a workshop setting like that, you can stop and you can say, as someone did to me with Buffalo once, I just don’t know what to do because I think I’m conducting. But they’re playing something different, and it just takes the courage to trust them and go on. And and once she was able to to try that, um, sort of split her brain a little bit from what she was hearing what she was showing. And it’s also in different temples. It’s it’s can be different. I remember Doc Severinsen once told me of a very funny story. He he was not a conductor and he was hired. Scott. What orchestra was was a large orchestra. Maybe it was Minnesota Cincinnati to be the pop soloist, so he showed up and he said, Okay, you know, I’d like to meet the maestro before we we, you know, go out on stage and rehearse, and they said, That’s you and you know, we thought you did everything we hired you to do the whole concert, he said, I don’t know how to conduct and they said, Well, it’s too late now. The concert is tonight So he said. He got on the podium and it was candied overture and he said, started to conduct and the orchestra played about four bars into his conducting. I mean, they were really just that whatever he was doing, they just kind of lumbered in and played together. That’s really behind the beacon s. So he stops and he said, Listen, guys, I just got to tell you I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. Please help me. And they said, Okay. And then they did. He went on to conduct really well. I mean, because and he started to take it seriously. But But what a scary feeling. And especially when an orchestra is not right there. I mean, you’ve all probably seen videos of Theo really old school German orchestras that play so far after the beat. It’s almost terrifying. I mean, you’re just praying that the cord will hum. That’s that’s less common now. But this still is a lot of behind the beat, playing in slower tempos, especially
spk_1
in well, it’s good that he, you know, said, I don’t know what I’m doing. E. Need some of those you know you could you could have said you got to play with me, and I just didn’t know what he was doing, all right? No, it was good.
spk_2
He was. What he did was exactly right. And and, uh uh, you know that that happens to all of us. Sometimes we just we need the help of an orchestra, but they do react differently. And so you know this here, the problem with our profession is that, um, Jeremy does no short cut to it. You know, you can’t study a study in study and say Okay, now, I can’t conduct this. You really have to be on the podium, a significant amount of time, either in a lesson or studying or with your own orchestra to actually feel comfortable with that. And I feel confident enough to do it. So So I wish in our country that there were more situations where we’re young conductors who are ready for an orchestra can have a kind of intermediate place where they can actually conduct concerts and be involved on a really level not just watching, but doing it in a safe place, you know, in a safe place where they’re not being a review is not being written about their performance or they’re not being judged. But they’re being given the opportunity to practice, and that just doesn’t seem to exist in Buffalo. We have a program where which I think is helping a little bit with the man is college of music just now the new school in New York, and they send their gradual conductors up to be with us for every concert. I mean, one of the graduates is with us, and there are cover conductor and their help with balances, and you know, they do any kind of off stage conducting that’s necessary. But they also get to meet with the development department, the marketing department, the Finance Department executive director so that they know the whole the whole situation. And they said, on stage with us, they get to talk to the musicians on they do. They do pieces in in performance on, and I think the best thing that they’ve said is after after those year or two experience they have with us, they are they no longer feel afraid of an orchestra. Oh, no, they were They were afraid. But being on the stage with professional musicians and having them joke with you or you answer a question that you asked for or even, you know, try and you know, smile at you to indicate, Okay, It’s going well, uh, took away a lot of the fear and I think that was a very good thing because that’s what we all feel. A TTE the beginning of our time. We step on the podium and we’re really filled with anxiety and that that affects that affects how we do. So to be able to take a step away from that anxiety is great.
spk_0
Yeah, be able t to be calm. And should the artist to your calm and bring out that, you know, confidence in the Yeah, in my master’s the first time I conducted Kansas City Civic, which was the first time I had conducted an orchestra, not school related. Um, I stepped on the podium. I was like, I got this, I got this. I have horrible anxiety and it was just running all over the place Way were doing hit the Hansel and Gretel Overture, and I made eye contact with those first oboe player, and he was an older gentleman, and I had never talked to him before I met him, and he just had these eyes that he looked at me and I for a moment. I thought he was very angry with me. And I was like, What did I do? Of course that, like, for the whole first half of the rehearsal, I was. All I thought about was Don’t look at that oboe player. He’s gonna give your anxiety. And then at the break, he comes up and he was actually very nice. He’s just very focused individual.
spk_2
Yes. And he wanted he wanted to do a good job for you.
spk_1
Yeah, you
spk_2
know, it’s just so he was looking right at you. Yes. You know, sometimes we do, we make, we make wrong assumptions and they get in our way. So, you know, my my my credo is to always assume that everyone in the orchestra wants to do a good job. And frankly, everybody does. It would be very hard for a musician in orchestra to say I’m gonna play badly today. Kind of anyone’s come to work and said that, uh, I don’t I can’t believe it. That they would. I mean, they may not like the piece you’re doing. They may not like the conductor on the podium, but they’re not going to deliberately play in a way that that undermines their sense of who they are. So you’ve got that on your side that the musicians want to play well and they want to sound good. And they they given. Given the chance to sound good, they will.
spk_1
And if anyone decides to play on well, you know the orchestra’s on your side. The orchestra doesn’t want them. Yeah, it’s just so it’s even,
spk_2
Yeah, And you know, I think what what people conductors have to realize is that the orchestra wants them to be good. Absolutely. They do not want them to be nervous. They don’t want them to be anxious. They want to them to feel comfortable because they feel comfortable. The orchestra will feel comfortable. So So they’re they’re they’re starting out on your side. They really are. And, uh and you know, you should have that confidence to that. You know, they really want to play well for you.
spk_1
Do you find yourself still having, you know, having these feelings when you go to a new orchestra for the first time
spk_2
Yeah, especially, You know, in a place where you don’t know you haven’t been before Maybe first time and in an orchestra in Europe, an orchestra in Asia where you really don’t know how to how to react or how they will react. And I remember something. And first time I conducted in Japan, um, the, uh the manager said to me, Well, you understand that we have certain way of talking to each other in Japan, and it is with the greatest respect. Um, so, uh, we we can never tell someone that something is not good. Ah, and so I said, Well, I understand and I I appreciate this beautiful culture, but how do you run a rehearsal? Uh, if you can’t make any comment, you know, that indicates that something could be played differently. He said, Well, are great. Japanese conductors know how to do that with, you know, incredible carefully. But we understand that Westerners have no idea way give a lot of latitude for Western conductors who come in and maybe are more blunt than we’re used to. But just keep in mind that we treat everybody with a great sense of honor and I thought in the end, that’s exactly how we should do it. Everywhere should treat everyone with a great sense of honor. But it was a little was a little frightening for me to think about. Oh, I better not say that. Well, then how can I say it? I mean, how should I express that? It was a little bit daunting at the beginning, but But, you know, the musicians were very, very understanding.
spk_1
Yeah. Yeah. The only thing I can think is to, you know, be like Okay. Like, Mork Crescendo here, maybe. Yes, you know.
spk_2
Yeah, that’s what you know. I think what you have you’re onto something, Jeremy, because I remember my teacher would always say Try as much as possible not to put a negative word in your comment. Um, don’t say something like don’t play that so loud. Said, could that be a little softer? And it just sounds so much better. Uh, so any kind of don’t or not good or a bad at no negative comment, But turn it around so that you’re asking them for the same thing, but not making a judgment that’s negative. And And musicians are sensitive, and we all know that. So, you know, sometimes language is very important.
spk_1
One of you say, Don’t you know? Don’t do that. You’re telling them to stop something. But if you if you say let’s play it softer than you’re asking for an adjustment instead of just a straight
spk_2
or you’re asking them to think about it in a different way. So it’s not necessarily that you know that it was wrong in the system. They did something terribly wrong. No, it’s just that in this context, let’s try it a little bit softer. Maybe it would be better for balance or whatever, and, uh, and eventually people get into your concept of it and they’re listening to Why? Sometimes? So,
spk_1
No. I was watching a rehearsal here recently. I don’t remember what the piece was, but I was familiar. There was there was a clarinet line, and it and the clarinet player was playing. It kind of like pointed, which is kind of how it’s played sometimes, Um, again, I can’t remember the peace right now on, and the conductor’s interpretation was was a bit more smooth. And so, you know, it wasn’t really sticking out to me because it was how I’d usually heard it. And he said, You know, clear, not just think of it like, you know, think of it like this instead and then all of us on everything like blended in together. And it was perfect is. And then the clarinet player was like, Okay, I get it now.
spk_2
Yeah, or it’s one way of doing it. You know, that’s what I think, that the best thing I think about what a conductor does is offer possibilities to the old mister or for a different way of thinking about it, is that you don’t even have to say anything. Just the gesture you make makes them realize that. Oh, okay, he’s thinking of this more in a way of connecting to something else, and, um and then it’s interesting to them. I mean, they may not play it that way the next time with the next conductor, but for that moment they’re invested in and in your idea of it. So, uh, a lot of times I try to avoid things like saying, Uh oh, that’s out of tune or even, you know, even that’s too loud or that’s too soft. But more help to understand At that point, it would be great to hear the oboe come out of the texture. And for that to happen, we need you to pull back. Okay, That’s so then they’re listening to with you for the oboe to come out of the texture rather than then saying simply, uh, that’s too loud. That’s too. So you know, you can get you know, you have to be a little careful because I remember when I was associate conductor. Uh, you know, I would try and say things in a way that was a little bit more. I’m not poetic exactly, but a little bit more about why and what what it meant. And and I remember the trumpet player came of tree. At one point, he said, You know, there’s only six words that the conduction needs to say Faster, slower, louder, softer, longer, shorter. That’s it. We don’t need to hear anything else. Thank you. S O. I mean, there are those people who feel okay, just keep it simple. But, uh, you know, that’s that’s part of the part of the interesting thing about my lines. I mean, we encounter so many musicians who think in different ways. But I know I think, American musicians, they’re so imaginative. They’re so they’re so creative and poetic themselves that that they love the idea of understanding, Uh, why that would be You know why? Why you might want it this way. I remember I was doing levels with buffalo. This was several years ago, and you know, the story of levels, which is which is it’s, It’s crushing. It’s it’s horrifying. He’s talking about Germany destroying France. Mean So, Actually, no, it’s a It’s a frightening thing because the walls, he takes the most precious thing. And this is after after he after the war and after you’re in an ambulance driver for three years behind the front lines, you know? So he he was It was a very different man. He took the very most precious thing that they had their walls. They’re elegant, sophisticated, you know, filled with with us, polish and beauty. And he gradually turns it into a war machine in this in this piece and breaks the world apart at the end that it’s just horrifying. So it’s a piece that doesn’t really work unless the audience knows what it’s about because it ends in a in a very brutal way. And it’s like what happened. Um, I have somewhat someone asked me once Did the orchestra really rehearse that piece? Because they can. I don’t understand what happened at the end. So for this performance, I felt okay. I’ve got to say something. Which I don’t speak from the podium a lot, but I right before the piece, I spoke about what? What it was about World War One and reveals, um, uh, you know, just a incredible grief. And this this was a catharsis of what he had to say about the war. The musicians had no idea of it. Just Jeremy like you. If you hadn’t done that piece before, they had no idea. And they told me afterwards they had had no idea that was what it was about. But that performance for me was almost terrifying because they so, uh, so went for it at the end. And it knocked on that in rehearsal at all. I should have told him in rehearsal they hadn’t done in rehearsal. It was It was It was scary at the end. I mean, they really they really were that war machine of the end. I mean, it was thrilling to hear that, but I have never heard them play it that way. And it was just those three or four sentences, five sentences that I said to the audience that they said, Ah, this is what it’s about. So so you know, I think sometimes telling an orchestra a little bit about what’s going on. This is a good idea,
spk_1
especially if it says picturesque is something
spk_2
as if something is necessary is that, um you know where they need to know that? So So, uh, conductors are always walking a fine line between telling musicians things and and trying to show things and not talking too much. And
spk_1
so, yeah, well, yeah, and I would I I’ve just never encountered levels very much at all, so I don’t I’ve never done it. But I would think at least you know, I would think some of the orchestra would have if they played it, at least been told before.
spk_2
Yeah, you know, it’s funny. I think that musicians air such specialists that they’ll spend, you know, 40 hours that week working on my vaults and working on the slur here on the exact kind of piano that they want to accomplish Or, you know, the tone that they want here, the stroke of the bow and not really know why Rebel wrote the piece. So some in some pieces is very important.
spk_1
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Was that Was that where they’re more performances of that concert? Yeah, there was. There was another. Yeah,
spk_2
yeah, yeah, it was. But it was It was It was amazing to see how that changed them. I wasn’t even sure they could hear me talking to the audience, because you never know when you’re on the mike if they can hear behind you. But obviously they could hear, and it was like, we’re going for it. And they did. And it was It was amazing. So So now this is It’s an interesting, interesting sort of community. The orchestra. How how you deal with them. And I mean, probably everyone would tell you almost everything. I will tell you talking a lot. It’s not a good idea. Yeah, basically, people want to play, and that’s how they that’s how they come to terms with the music they play, and then they realize they’ve got to shift something or they realize they’ve gotta change it kind of rhythm, But they can only do that by playing and listening to your colleagues. So so do you need to play?
spk_1
Yeah, it’s incredible. Has some, you know, sometimes just a little bit of information can change. I was in a performance in Springfield ones, I think. I think it was Tchaikovsky for I think it was a Tchaikovsky Symphony they were doing. And after the first movement, um, Springfield’s in Tornado Alley, so we would get tornado sometimes. And after the first movement, somebody came onto the stage and said, You know, we’re in a tornado warning, but this hall is ah, is ah, tornado safe area. So if it’s so, you know, if you’d like to leave, please leave. But we’re gonna continue the concert. And and then they went into the end of the second movement. And it was just like the rest of the concert was in this, like, magical other dimension. Because now everyone was thinking about this.
spk_2
Yes, what was happening outside and their sheltered in this place.
spk_1
Yeah, and we were all safe, you know, we’re all worried about it. And it was It was one of the most incredible experience I was in the audience. I wasn’t I wasn’t playing. I wish I would have been playing because I could, like, I could feel that everything was different even when I was
spk_2
Well, what do you think? It’s gonna feel like Jeremy, when we come back after this Corona virus play our 1st 1st rehearsal together. I think people are going to be crying because it’s just that, you know, things we’ve taken for granted and you’re a lot of musicians come to work saying another rehearsal. That’s not going to be just another rehearsal. That’s gonna be something that’s like, Thank goodness we can come back and do what we we need to do. We live to do this.
spk_1
Yeah, absolutely. Well, a lot of, unfortunately, a lot of a lot of big musicians air just totally, you know, at work right now to sat in a salaried. Musicians still have something coming, and I think
spk_2
right there in the organization, depending on the organization, it’s it’s the it’s the freelancers that are really suffering and, you know, we use a lot of subs and freelancers all the time. I mean there. They’re really part of our family. So we need to figure out ways is how we can help them. I mean, I know there’ll be some government help coming to, but But these people really are our suffering, and their families are suffering so on. I guess that’s true. Of all the arts mean, even people who would have been able to make money in other ways, like teaching or even being a waiter or waitress part time cannot do any of that. So it’s it’s it’s really critical for them. So I know there are organizations, musical organizations that are starting to mobilize to to raise money for people in that situation. And they really need help.
spk_1
Yeah. And the government, the bill that just passed doesn’t close does include gig workers and freelance.
spk_2
Yeah. Thank goodness. Stairs. Absolutely. Uh, wait. Uh, wait. Discussion. I know it’s Ah, it’s Ah, a strange time in our lives. But anyway, music goes on. I mean, that’s a testament to how the government is, So,
spk_1
yeah, I just pulled out my Beethoven nine score. Um, because we’re opening the season with Beethoven nine. And you know, everyone’s doing Beethoven on which maybe is the perfect time to be playing the symphony after,
spk_2
Yes, we just had. We had a bit of a nine scheduled in Virginia in May, which we just postponed to August. So we’re sort of be opening the season in late August with Beethoven nine and that will. I think that will feel very special, that peace is always very special. It’s amazing that a piece that 18 24 I mean, you think that we’d get sort of used to it and and have to figure have figured out all the problems and the, you know, hard spots wouldn’t be hard anymore. It is such a challenging and and shocking and surprising piece. It really is. S o. Uh, it’s a great thing to play at times like this, bringing people together.
spk_1
I mean, you get all the Beethoven’s are hard, really, they’re there. Then they continue to still be hard. They continue to still be
spk_2
Yeah, sure, they are shocking. They are shocking. I mean, we just did 1/3 and, you know, we were realizing as a zoo playing it that it still is a ground breaking piece of music. It’s what they made of it what the audience made of it. I have no idea, because it’s just was so out there. But, um, it’s still it’s, you know, that’s one of the challenges and bringing in a piece like that in bringing, bringing to the fore what will still be shocking to our ears. Have heard it hundreds of times and knowing the piece, Uh, but But it’s still there. I mean, it’s still there, and you can hear it.
spk_1
I’m so excited to, you know, like in the future, like, 50 years from now to look back and, you know, because we’re seeing, like, the Rite of Spring, you know, the Shostakovich Symphony czar. Last thing you know, the Prokofiev’s What Are you know, in 50 years, one of the things from right now that will still be thinking that will still be programming.
spk_2
Probably your ass. That a lot, too, because people are always asking me Well, what what’s gonna become a classic? And I think it’s very hard to say. I mean, there are pieces like the Danny Elfman that I think are fabulous. I mean, and I think it would become a classic, but you just never know. I mean
spk_1
the tough thing with concertos, I think is you gotta have somebody. You’ve gotta have somebody to play If you can’t just program at union soloist to prep little thing
spk_2
Well, you’re right. And see if anyone could play that piece better than her. I I can’t imagine it, but she’s totally committed to it. She told me it was when we finished our performance in Buffalo. She was crying at the end on end, and so I was. I was hugging her, saying, Sandy, you okay? And she said Yes. She said, I just in this piece, I get into a zone and it’s It’s like a life journey. And at the end I die And that’s and that’s what that’s what happens to me at the end of this piece. And so I lived through that whenever I play it, and I thought, Oh my goodness, I mean but you could tell that she she was truly feeling that, and she was shaking and she was crying, and I thought, Well, that’s That’s a soloist who was so totally committed Thio what she sees as the as the meaning of the piece. So but, uh, amazing she was amazing.
spk_1
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, And then Danny was he did a He did a talk when he was here. Um, and I think it’s somebody asked about, you know, other people playing it is. And I think he said, at least for the next couple of years, hit Sandy has. Which is a good idea, I think.
spk_2
Oh, I think so. He was so smart to do that and to be able to play that piece by memory alone.
spk_1
I mean, just just like the percussion, the percussion cadenza. I think in the second movement I was following, I couldn’t even follow with the score. And she’s she’s playing everything from memories.
spk_2
She she I mean, it’s in her hands in her body. That piece, it’s amazing, But you know, there are. They’re great pieces coming up all over. I just played a ah, very new piece written by the concert master of the Berlin Philharmonic. Who’s an American young man, Noah Bendix Bagley. I don’t know. He was Constant Esther of Pittsburgh and, uh, and then he won the concert master of Berlin Philharmonic, and he has a Jewish roots and klezmer background. And he wrote, he wrote himself. Ah, fantastic clothes were Concerto for Violin, just one of the greatest controls I’ve ever heard. And it’s completely authentic, completely authentic. And when he plays that concerto, you can actually hear the voice of Gustav Mahler in there in a strange way, going back to the Fifth Symphony. And that’s where Waller got this music from our, uh, that’s at the root of who he waas mean. It’s It’s an astonishing piece. I hope you get a chance to do that. Somebody. What’s his name? Bendix Bagley. Noah is his first name. B e E N D i x b a l g l e y. He’s amazing violinist to me. This as you can imagine being concert Master the Berlin film. But he’s a young man from Asheville, North Carolina. And that’s where you grew up. And, um, at an astonishing concerto.
spk_1
Often. Well, I’ll check that out for anyone that since we keep bringing up the Danny Open congee No, it is a modified like you can. It’s It’s on Spotify,
spk_2
listen right. You can’t listen to it.
spk_1
Please. D’oh! I wish the video with Sandy playing it were on there.
spk_2
Yeah, I know, I know biggie because it’s we have. If I can get this, we have a video of the Videocon, her concert. Maybe at some point we can show it. I’m really working on that, because to see her do it is just amazing. And you know she’s involved in it, and we will be will be broadcasting a live performance of the The Noah’s Piece on April 7. That’s the night before Passover on on on the Buffalo radio station. If you want to listen in at seven, it’s really worth a listen. This piece, because it’s it, is astonishing. It’s the highest level klezmer writing I’ve ever heard, and he’s having. He’s amazing. Yeah, so
spk_1
has he written anything else? Or is that his first?
spk_2
That’s his foe. Well, it’s his first go, and he had help with the orchestration just for the orchestra by Sam Adler, who’s a great composer. Samuel Adler. So so that that’s like some fresh air just surprised by these amazing pieces that come up. And, uh, it’s wonderful.
spk_1
So what other pieces are you like looking at over, You know, this quarantine period? Are there any like pieces that you haven’t had time to kind of look at that. You’re actually kind of breaking into now.
spk_2
Yeah, I’ve been starting to study Scriabin a little bit more. We was most to do the Third Symphony, and we had to postpone that. But then I thought, OK, I’m gonna look at some of the other symphonies to so looking at the second, which is completely different from the third. The third is, you know, more into his sort of very freeform world. The second it’s more romantic. This was wonderful piece, just pieces that people don’t normally do this crap into. And we’re also looking into Kodi. You are making a recording of music of Cody. We’re looking into his concerto for orchestra his symphony wonderful music that somehow has fallen through the cracks. I’m not Germany. People play called I’II anymore, But this’ll is. This is great music, truly great music. So sometimes they’re people composers that we know who we just may know one or two pieces that we play all the time. Some really great music that that that we it just falls under the raid. Just flies under the radar or something. I don’t know
spk_1
when I think Scriabin, I definitely don’t think orchestral music? No,
spk_2
because of the piano music. But oh, it’s it’s fantastic. I mean, is this the the poem of Ecstasy is something truly beautiful. And so So we’re working on Scriabin working on that. We’re working on some music by Lucas False whom you might not name, you might not know, but he was a visit director. The Buffalo filet Monica in the seventies, seven days. And, uh, it was really a force for avant garde new music. So we’re thinking of sort of having a little renaissance of his music, which is really quite quite important and quite amazing. So So we’re always looking for new things.
spk_1
He was running with Bernstein, right? It was It
spk_2
was a very close friend of birds. Yes, right he was. And like Bernstein, he was also pianist, composer, conductor with the same thing. And they were close friends when I was associate conductor. And in Milwaukee, where Lucas was music director, Bernstein came and spent a week with us because we didn’t Bernstein Festival. So, uh, it was, uh it was pretty astonishing. And they they had a great friendship.
spk_1
And then I think David was it David Diamond also, Yeah, like, yeah, like the three of them were all. Yeah, we’re running today.
spk_2
There’s they’re all new in New York and I know there’s so much great music, you know, if we talked about this before, there’s so much great music. And and I think audiences are at the point where they’re open enough. Thio, listen to it differently. They’re they’re really they’re not going to stay home because his new piece on the program, they may wonder about it, but and they may not be certain if they’re gonna like it, but they’re they’re interested enough to really to really, uh, uh, you know, be there and be open minded.
spk_1
Yeah, I’m always I always love to go to a concert and, you know, I’m going for the big piece, and then something else just blows me away. And then I you know, I totally forget about about the big piece, right? Right.
spk_2
Well, I mean, that’s that’s what music should be. Just you know, there’s been a lot of people recreating in this beta when you’re recreating that The famous concert and 18 08 the four hour concert, both the fifth and the sixth were premiered, and there also was Christ on the Mount of Olives and some solo piano repertory was, like four hours long in an unheated concert hole on You wonder Oh my God, that that was the night. I mean, I don’t know how many people survived a very but, uh, but just the idea of new music being so interesting to people. You wanted to hear the latest things. So,
spk_1
yeah, I’ve always I’ve always found I love going to like concerts. I wish they didn’t have to be separated, but like a new music ensemble concert, and it’s like, almost like like a rock show, like if there’s a lot of energy in there and you
spk_2
don’t know what to expect. I mean, it’s not predictable at all, which is great. I mean, that’s that’s exciting about it. So But, you know, I think we really need to integrate that into our normal you know, menu of concerts so that it’s not always, you know, the one new music festival that you do or or you know, the one obligatory peace, but that these pieces become part of the fabric of our of our repertoire. And they just played alongside page over.
spk_1
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of people are working on that. I know a lot. There are a lot of pieces that are written to be paired with Beethoven. Nine. Then I you know, I probably will see someone who’s coming up. Hey, I just heard about one the other day, and so, you know, I’m sending everything to artistic department.
spk_2
Good. Good. Yeah. No, this is definitely a lot of music being written, and that’s that’s a great thing. Well, anything else you or we can weaken love once we get through this Jeremy, talk about OK, what is it like now? Playing again,
spk_1
But again, I mean, you know, everything right now kind of kind of sucks in its own way, but I think, you know, there’s a very bright future as people. One thing I also think it’s that, you know, everyone’s working from home now, And once we see that that works, I think more people will continue work from home, right? And then I think we’ll see people wanting to get out more and wanting to go to cultural events more, which is to get that ticket that human connection. So I I see. Actually, a bright future for your art once we can get through this.
spk_2
That’s great. I hadn’t thought about it that way. Yes, because people working from home people working in an office very often tell me. Oh, I was just too tired to come to the concert that night. By the time I got home, it was another 30 minutes to get back to the city, so I couldn’t do it. But if you’re in your house all day long and you say, Oh, I could go to have dinner out here a concert? I’m reading room. You’re all right. Very hopeful. Just get out of your house and coming here. Music. It’s wonderful. Well, it’s great. It’s great to told todo always. Thank you, Lou. Thank you, Jeremy. And you know, to be continued when we get back together and start making music again, and then we can comment on Okay, what’s different now?
spk_1
Yeah, Yeah, Hopefully everybody went home and practice, right? Yes. Did you
spk_2
gotta get the practice room? And I think people are, you know, are really keeping up with things. I mean, no one is saying they’re ready to go. If we could play tomorrow, people would absolutely there. But just hoping that we could maybe play in May. That’s what we’re hoping. Now, don’t think April’s gonna be possible, so yeah, but But anyway, you two stay safe. Take care of your whores. Don’t Don’t get over. Anxious will come out of this. So
spk_1
I’m catching up on my reading planning and I’ve got a pile of It’s
spk_2
good. Yeah, it’s good. Well, anyway, you stay well, and thanks so much for making me a part of this. I love to talk.
spk_1
Thanks so much for your time. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us today for this episode and for all the episodes you’ve listened to in the past and all in the future, we really appreciate all of our listeners. Thank you for interacting with us. Suggesting guests. This is exactly why we do this. You can find everything on our website that podium time, pa dot wordpress dot com. And then we share everything also on our socials and on on our email list as well. If you’d like to support the podcast monetarily, please head over to patron dot com slash podium time pod. Mendelssohn’s Italian was performed by Stefano Legal Rocky and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture was performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

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