Monday, August 13, 2012

Singing the Berlioz Requiem at Davies Symphony Hall with 350 other musicians - a follow up

Robert Gurney conducts 250 singers - I'm right above his left hand. photo: Timothy Lee
I think it's safe to say that last Sunday, August 5th performing the Berlioz Requiem (and several other pieces) was one of the most exhilarating and exhausting musical experiences I've ever had. It's really special to pull off something so amazingly beautiful with 350 other people, with 1700 other people in attendance (check out the standing ovation).

Actually, I would have done it all just to hear the Richard Strauss Sprach Zarathustra, Fanfare (also known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey), which we did, four times. THAT was one of the most thrilling things I've ever sat through.
You can only see twelve, but I promise there were thirteen timpanis. Photo by me.
Watch the video below. There were 13 timpani (kettledrums) and it was absolutely incredible to hear them all get pounded at once. And that major chord they hit at 1:06? Just goosebumps all over... from what wasn't all tingly already. What an absolutely thrill. I was so excited after the first run through at the dress rehearsal I literally raised the roof. I felt like such a huge dork, but I loved seeing all the smiles on everyone else's faces. 

350 people strong. Photo: Timothy Lee
Performing the Requiem was equally as thrilling, and totally exhausting. This piece is something like 80 minutes long, and the chorus sings for most of it. As an Alto 2, I got to sit down a couple times, but that's it. And I kept wondering how the folks twice my age were faring. I was physically sore to the core for the next couple of days.

The group of musicians we worked with are the Redwood Orchestra, also a group of volunteers, from the peninsula. They were fabulous and conductor Eric Kujawski was a pleasure to work with. We lovingly called him "The Dude" because of his likeness to Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski

From the first balcony. Photo: Elisabeth Wakcher
One blogger (one of the 80 choristers that joined us from New York) wrote about one of the funniest moments at the dress rehearsal, Kujawski called things to a halt, saying:
MORE! We need MORE! You, in the back row (of the percussion section), what are you doing standing there! Find something and hit it!!

Eric "The Dude" Kujawski - check out his shirt... photo: Timothy Lee
There's talk about going to Carnegie Hall next year. I'm on the list.

Cute photo of some of the Alto 2s. photo: John Martin

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