Friday, February 06, 2009

A Letter to a Student Friend

The following is part of a letter, an answer to a question I just sent to a student. I think it may be pertenate to a lot of players today preparing to audition for a position in a symphony orchestra. It gives my openion on one of the most frequent questions I’m asked.

“Now, regarding whether we should play the written notes or “help” the orchestration: Please read an article I wrote about a year ago for called “Tradition and Evolution”; that pretty much explains my philosophy. Our repertoire is loaded with works that were written at a time of poorer instruments and frankly, poorer players. I almost always tried to calculate what the composers would have written if today’s instruments and players were available.

Concerning the Mahler 5 Chicago recording, I know that Gene has the same philosophy and as I recall we worked on that symphony a long time ago in his lessons. Certainly, Mahler would have written those low Ebs in today’s world; that’s the way the melody is played in every instrument, only the tuba part was simplified.

As for what to do in an audition, you must consider the judges in each situation separately. As time passes orchestra people are growing more aware; soon the modifications will be universal; for now you must make a separate decision for each situation.

Please remember this though: When we take the liberty of making a modification it must sound great.

Hope to see you in Le Domaine.



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