On Wednesday 4/16 we moved off the Richardson stage to make room for my colleague Gabriel Crouch and the PU Glee Club in order for them to have a little extra stage time to rehearse for the Walter Nollner Concert on Friday the 18th. We wedged ourselves into the McAlpin Rehearsal Room in Woolworth where things are very, very tight. This happens periodically, and I have to plan carefully for what is possible to rehearse. Nothing like the full, roaring fff Mahler orchestra is possible, as we would all suffer hearing loss ( I have sometimes handed our earplugs in McAlpin). So we focussed on some sticky spots for the cello and bass sections, the very soft 4th and the light and sparkly 5th movements.
It’s always an ordeal rehearsing in McAlpin, but in many ways a useful one. The acoustic environment is about as dead as it can get, zero reverberation. It is basically impossible to make a beautiful sound in there, so it can be demoralizing. But…. unlike the luxurious acoustic spaciousness of Richardson, one can hear everything with unforgiving clarity. The place doesn’t lie about intonation and ensemble. That can be highly frustrating when you’re not used to it– but also very instructive. I heard some mistakes in parts that I must admit, with some embarrassment, I have missed with my two other forays in this symphony. It was a tough rehearsal, as we had to respond to the newly revealed little imperfections and slips. But it was most useful, and I think will have benefits.
Looking way ahead– our new orchestral rehearsal room in Music’s part of the Arts and Transit Neighborhood, to open in Fall 2017, will be more than twice the size of McAlpin. No more earplugs. And, very importantly, it will have a variable acoustic, meaning we can set it to the reverberation of Richardson OR, if we want the real truth of how together and in tune it is, we can totally deaden it, like McAlpin. All in the same rehearsal if we want.
So, I hope the truth we learned Wednesday will help set us free (to play more in tune and together)! Easter Sunday off, and on Monday begins the home stretch. I do believe we’re ready. If we concentrate from the outset, we can do this.