Posts Tagged ‘John Williams’

The Largest Orchestra Audition in the World?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

By: Frank Cadenhead

You think you can play as well as any of those musicians on stage? As part of a celebration called “Viva l’Orchestre” you are invited by the Orchestre National de France to perform as part of an orchestra of grand amateurs on stage in Paris at the new Auditorium at Radio France, sitting side by side with the regulars. This activity was a success last year, the first year, and seems to be a winning formula to reach out and make contact with the larger public.

This concert, on May 29, 2016 happens to have this season a large percentage of American music, including Barber’s Adagio, Gershwin’s American in Paris plus Copland, John Williams (music from Catch Me If You Can), Bernard Hermann’s music for Psycho and even John Cage.

There are some restrictions: You must be between the ages of 7 and 97. There doesn’t seem to be any country restrictions but some smattering of French would certainly be helpful. And plan to visit Paris for rehearsals, two in March, four in April and six in May. You have to self-evaluate yourself as a debutant, medium, good or excellent. They ask for any diplomas you might have in music and the date you received that but this is not a requirement for inclusion. You will be assigned to play music during the concert which would correspond to your level and thus you should not be required to attend all rehearsals.

They will want to know a little about your experience, if any, and the form asks if you have some experience with chamber music and, if so, what did you play. Another question is why you want to participate in this project. Minors need their parent’s signature.

You have to have filed an application, accompanied by a photo, by October 31. You will be contacted about the rehearsal schedule for the works you have been assigned  in January and there is a caution that the selection process is limited to the number of places available. It your pile of frequent flyer miles is thin, you can choose to wait until your local symphony orchestra discovers the same idea. It might be soon because of its obvious engagement with the public and because it would be cheap to organize and fun to do.

If you can’t wait, more information is available at Bon Courage!

Rocky Seas, a Waltz and a Violin Concerto

Friday, October 26th, 2012

By Rebecca Schmid

The programming of the Berlin Philharmonic, while reportedly having gravitated away from the players’ specialty in German repertoire since Sir Simon Rattle took the reins a decade ago, not only gives equal weight to post-Romantic repertoire but consistently illuminates connections between works which seem disparate at first glance. Andris Nelsons conducted the orchestra on Wednesday in a program of Britten, Widmann, Debussy and Ravel that yielded a powerful sense of emotional coherence. Jörg Widmann, a prolific German clarinettist and composer whose opera Babylon premieres in Munich next week (also featuring New Artist of the Month Anna Prohaska), combines neo-Romantic expressivity with avant-garde textures and unrestrained modern angst, much in the spirit of his teacher Wolfgang Rihm, yet in its own impulsive search. His Violin Concerto unfolds in a single, approximately 30-minute movement with a driving, lamenting melody at its center, alternately spurring and diffracting the colors of the orchestra. Structurally, it recalls Rihm works such as Gesungene Zeit, a chamber concerto written for Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Soloist Christian Tetzlaff, who premiered Widmann’s concerto in 2007, brought out the music’s direct dramatic qualities in plangent lyricism that escalates into an existential struggle richocheting throughout the orchestra. The players of the Philharmonic performed in precise coordination and with sensitivity under Nelsons. After a long pause toward the end of the piece the music returns with a violent snap in the low strings until the soloist, supported by the violins, climbs out of its tortured state. A celeste chord and gentle gong crash provide closure. This sense of eerie loneliness also penetrated the final moments opening work, the Passcaglia op.33b from the opera Peter Grimes. The soulful viola solo performed over celeste at the close, foreshadowing the death of the persecuted fisherman’s second apprentice, evokes a deserted beach and grey skies, a struggle already expired. Nelsons intelligently gave the viola section emphasis by placing it downstage in front of the celli. The aching string passages in the body of the work, punctured by anxious woodwinds, were a bit studied in this reading by the Philharmonic, but the fluid communication of the players kept the balance naturally in place.

A more lively vision of the sea emerged in Debussy’s poetic masterpiece La Mer, a series of three ‘symphonic sketches’ whose free structure and painterly landscapes have inspired everyone from Luciano Berio to John Williams. The orchestra found its stride in the second movement Jeux de vagues, capturing the music’s buoyancy with more ease than the surging, mysterious quality of the opening De l’aube à midi sur la mer, although wind solos were impeccable throughout. Nelsons brought sweep and youthful energy to Debussy’s vision of dancing waves which escalates into a battle between wind and water in the final Dialogue du vent et de la mer. The impending turbulence emerged with keen dramatic timing before subsiding into triumphant serenity. Ravel’s La Valse, conceived as a poème choréographique, follows the opposite trajectory, gathering its forces into a Viennese waltz à la Johann Strauß before marching brass attacks and Spanish-inflected castanets force the melody to fragment and spin out of control. Program notes infer that Ravel was not only impacted by the fall of the Hapsburg Empire in the First World War but the death of this mother in 1916. The strings of the Berlin Philharmonic reaffirmed their elegant culture of playing as the demonic dance unfurled with a sense of desperation that had been tacitly present the entire evening.