You’d think, because we’ve been rehearsing this piece since January that we’d pretty much have this down by now, and by and large, we do! David Griggs-Janower has been rehearsing each movement at many different tempi, just so that we could be flexible for when JoAnn came. He has also emphatically told us, over and over, where to mark “WATCH” in our scores – at the tricky places where the meter shifts, and at places where there’s some interpretive wiggle room. We’ve memorized passages where it is vital that we be connected to the conductor for indications of dynamic and tempo changes.
So, when we entered the rehearsal room last night, we were like a Division 1 sports team – highly trained, disciplined and knowing our playbook cold.
And the intense preparation paid off! JoAnn was a delight. Her tempi were brisk, energetic and exciting. She’s very precise about what she wants, communicates it very well and, because of David’s fine prep work, we were able to respond and incorporate her direction immediately.
When you’re used to a particular conductor, as we are with David Griggs-Janower, you learn to read their body language for indicators. It’s like a dance. One conductor will have a minimalist style, hardly moving at all, while another conducts with his or her whole body. One conductor might have the ictus of the beat in his hands; another might have it in his shoulders. You have to learn how to “read” that conductor.
Luckily for us, JoAnn is so accomplished and talented that she proved to be an easy read! We moved quickly past that awkward “getting to know you” stage straight into the “making great music” stage. We’re at the point now where we’re making fine-tune adjustments to a well calibrated and powerful instrument.
Our next rehearsal is with the full orchestra, which no doubt will bring further adjustments in terms of balance. Then it’s one final dress rehearsal and then its show time! The excitement and energy in rehearsal is palpable, and when you combine that with performance day energy, I can guarantee you that this will be a musical experience you will never forget!
~ Deirdre Michael, soprano