Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Gig Log: UWS and Maslanka's "Symphony No. 9"

Half of the rehearsal set up.
As a member of the Utah Wind Symphony percussion section, I am privileged to not only play with a bunch of fabulous musicians and a great conductor, but also to play music that is accessible to a very few groups. In our finale concert of the 2011-12 season, we performed David Maslanka's "Symphony No. 9."

We were joined in rehearsals by Stephen Steele, who commissioned the work, and David Maslanka himself. It was a demanding, challenging and rewarding experience. Among the rewards was a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest composers of our time, and the beginnings of an understanding of this masterful work of art.

Truth be told, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the piece after our sight-reading rehearsal. I just didn't "get it." Even after listening to the recording, studying the score and practicing my part, it took some time to gain even a basic appreciation for the music.

But things started to change pretty drastically when Maslanka joined our rehearsals. He was able to provide a lot of background information and insight into the construction of the piece. And even though our conductor, Scott Hagen, is a a master in his own right, nothing compares to the vision and direction of the composer. His direction and corrections turned the piece into something completely new - more powerful, incisive and direct - experience for the entire ensemble.

The other half.
If you'll allow a brief comparison, I like to think music is a lot like people. Sometimes you like people immediately. Others require more time and investment of ourselves. Sometimes, this type of friendship provides more depth and value than those that are "easy." So it was with "Symphony No. 9." By the time we finished the performance and left the stage, I was exhausted, but I knew I had a new "friend" for life.

To the UWS, David Maslanka, Scott Hagen, Stephen Steele, my section mates and many others, I thank you.

Can't wait for the next one!

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