Monday 6 March 2017
Tonight we are rehearsing Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony. It has been a while since we, as an orchestra, have played all of it in one rehearsal. There is a palpable sense of apprehension in the air tonight, especially among the strings. There are some tricky passages in this symphony and we are a bit thin on the ground tonight – only 2 cellos and 3 first violins – so it will be obvious where we are struggling. Oh well…let’s see how it goes! At least we still have 3 more weeks to practice and get it right before our concert on April 1st.
After tuning our instruments carefully we start with the last movement and rehearse our way back through the piece to the first movement.
“You’re not following my beat. We keep slowing down. This early Beethoven Symphony is all about dynamics – the contrast between the pianissimo and the fortissimo sections!” Sam, our conductor, is trying to get us to listen and work more on our dynamic range as this is one of our weaknesses as an orchestra. She demonstrates with her voice the volume of sound she is looking for us to achieve, as an orchestra, for each dynamic level. “This is fortissimo,” she shouts out at the top of her voice – that got everyone’s attention! “This is pianissimo,” she whispers to us. Sam then gets us to do some detailed rehearsal throughout the evening on various sections of this symphony. She points out who has the tune and where we need to pay particular attention to the different dynamic levels marked in our parts. Her enthusiasm and energy is infectious and helps us to keep going, even though by the end of the evening we are all flagging and Sam is becoming more tongue-tied. Fingers crossed all that hard work and effort is remembered until we next rehearse this piece!