Phew. Day 6 seemed endless, but in a good way. My day started with rehearsals for our performances at the final concert. We went over some troublesome spots and then did a run through in both ensembles. The conductor for the Royal Fireworks was very picky, as he should be, and he knew exactly how he wanted the piece played.
The next lecture I went to should have been called, “Name the Horn Player.” It was a wonderful session where we listened to old recordings – around 1925 through 1975 – of some major Strauss works and had to identify the hornist playing the solos. Mason Jones, Alan Civil, and Farkas were a few of them but I don’t remember the others.
Then I went to the luncheon banquet where we heard the usual thank you speeches and then more performances, some of them quite funny. e.g. playing garden hoses and conch shells. The food was good but no dessert. Odd for a banquet. (Not that I should be eating any of that.)
In the afternoon I went to a session featuring an excellent quintet and the topic was how did the principle horn play differently in a quintet compared to an orchestra. He said that he always has to listen carefully to what’s going on in the piece and blend appropriately regardless of the size of the group. He went on to say that he can’t play out as much in the quintet so that he doesn’t drown everyone else out. After the quintet session I went to an interesting session on the natural horn and the style of horns used beginning with the baroque period and moving forward.
The final concert began at 7 pm and didn’t end until 11 pm. Yikes. They really tried to cram too much in and by the time my two ensembles went on stage half the audience had left. The concert started out with the winners from the competitions held the other day. The fellow who one the solo horn competition played Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro very well. Numerous soloists followed, all excellent.
They had alphorns play four pieces that to me were completely indistinguishable from each other. I think two would have been plenty. Then they did this thing called soundpainting. The players learn gestures which the conductor uses to get the players to make certain types of sound. No written music is used. Not my cup of tea. You know you’re in trouble when someone comes on stage with the horns in a leotard and bare feet.
Finally, after all this, the ensembles (I think 7 ensembles total) got to play. I didn’t hear any of them because we had to wait backstage for our turn. The ones I was in were third from last and last. I played pretty well considering it was well after 10 pm when we got started. I think both of the ensembles I was in played very well and my last ensemble (playing Royal Fireworks) got a standing ovation. Of course, it could be that the audience was just getting up to leave.