Well, I landed in Burbank CA yesterday and had my one and only rehearsal for Tehillim at the Colburn School in downtown LA. First impressions: it’s a little cooler here than I thought it would be, and not humid at all. (Don’t forget I’m an east coast girl.) I haven’t really had an authentic Californian meal, but I will say that the sushi I snacked on during my rehearsal was out of this world! and I just picked it up at a little deli.
Nexus kind of blows my mind. These guys have been playing Reich’s music forever, in fact they’re the ones that Steve wrote a chunk of music for. They’re really chill, and totally on it. One of the guys told me this was somewhere near his 80th Tehillim or something. The set-up is a little different than I’m used to- the percussionists are sitting, but I guess when you’ve played it 80 times you don’t exactly need to stand and deliver. They messed around with our placement too. Also, the voices and the organs are the only amplified instruments! I’m used to everyone being amplified, which makes sound checks a total nightmare! David Robertson said that when everything is amplified it just gets louder and louder and there’s no dynamic variation, and while I totally agree with that, it’s an outdoor concert, and the winds will already be fighting the outdoor heat, and then unamplified?? yikes!!
I will say one snarky thing: Tehillum is SIGNAL vocals with Nexus percussion augmented with two guys from So Percussion, plus the Ojai Festival Orchestra-a group of freelancers. I was kind of disappointed in the rehearsal last night. It seemed like a large number of the orchestra hadn’t even cracked the score before the rehearsal- key signature changes completely not observed, repeats and da capo’s totally missed… the strings in particular just never really dug in to the sound. So, we were subjected to this rinse and repeat rehearsal technique so they could kind of get it together. It was pretty frustrating, but luckily David gave the vocalists permission to mark. With the exception of the percussion and the vocals (which definitely brought the fire and brimstone to the rehearsal) it was the most passive playing of Reich’s music I’ve ever observed- and btw- they were all MEN. (and how often are the vocalists the ones with their shit together???)
I know, I’m being kind of harsh, and this is a pick-up orchestra, and Tehillim is only one of ten pieces they will play, (also on this concert is Pergolesi) Contrary to the SIGNAL people, these guys don’t eat sleep and breathe to play this rep… but still, stylistic nuances aside, I kinda hope they get down to business before Sunday’s final concert.
Ok, I’m off to get “Bad Ass Coffee” and explore the beach, which is not even 100 yards away from my hotel. Tonight I’ll be at the SIGNAL concert, (Four Organs, Drumming, Nagoya Marimbas and Daniel Variations) where my colleagues will crack this festival wide open!! (and we have girls in our band……)